33 Irish Insults And Curses: From ‘Dope’ And ‘Hoor’ To ‘The Head On Ye’ And More

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Irish insults and curse words
Photo by Arthur Ward via Tourism Ireland

Howaya! In the guide below, you’ll find LOOOOOOOADS of Irish insults and Irish curse words (or ‘cuss words’, for ye Americans).

Now, 2 disclaimers before we dive on in:

  1. If you’re easily offended, you may want to click the little ‘x’ now… you dope 😉
  2. If you use one of these Irish insults and someone hits you a box, I’m not liable 

Lovely – now that that’s out of the way, let’s jump in.

Below you can have a nosey at some light-hearted and pretty damn offensive Irish insults and Irish curse words.

16 Common Irish Insults and Bold Irish Curses

irish insults guide
@ Tourism Ireland photographed by Tom Archer

Right, our first section is dedicated to the common Irish insults that you’ll likely encounter at one point or another.

It’s here that you’ll find the ‘Dopes’ and the ‘Gobshites’. I’ll pop a little note beside the more offensive phrases and words so that you don’t end up getting yourself in trouble.

1. Tool

Ah, tool. This is one of those Irish insults that isn’t overly offensive, and it’s one that I find myself using a fair bit.

For example, “Dad – you’re after blocking me in with your car again, you tool” or “Did you hear Tony clipped the pillar when he was reversing out of the drive the other day? Ah, shtap – he’s some tool that lad”.

2. Dryshite

I haven’t heard this one used that much as of late. It was one you’d hear a lot when you were in your first few years of college, and it’s usually used when someone won’t do something / go somewhere.

For example, “Here, we’re heading for a few pints in O’Toole’s before going into the match – are you coming?” “I can’t, man, I was out last night and I’m dying” “Ah, for fu*k sake, man, you’re some dryshite”.

3. Pup 

This is another relatively tame one. I use this a fair bit when describing someone that’s been a bit bold, but you’ll often hear people say it about a child that has misbehaved.

For example, “I caught him eating cake from the fridge with his hands, the little pup” or “I heard about you on Saturday night, ya pup”.

4. Huair/Hoor (an Irish insult with both an offensive and a playful meaning)

I love the word ‘huair’ although I’m never sure whether or not it’s spelt ‘Huair’ or ‘Hoor‘. Anyway, this can be hugely offensive or it can be tame, depending on the context and who it’s being said to.

The word huair is often used to describe a promiscuous woman and is deemed to be severely offensive. 

You’ll also hear it used when someone refers to a person as ‘a cute huair’, which loosely means the person is a bit of a rogue, but also pretty clever. This use isn’t seen to be offensive.

For example, “I heard you managed to wiggle your way into that concert on Friday, you cute huair. How’d you manage that? It’s been sold out for weeks”.

5. Wagon

This is another one that’s often used to describe women. Now, personally I’ve only ever really heard my girl mates use this when talking about other women.

For example, “Your one Deirdre got with Sarah’s boyfriend the other night. She’s a little wagon that one”.

6. Thick

In some countries, like the UK, you’ll hear someone being referred to as ‘thick’ as a way of describing them as stupid.

In Ireland, at times, you’ll hear someone being referred to as ‘a thick’ or ‘the thick’. You can also say ‘an awful thick’. It’s used to describe someone stupid, also, but for whatever reason, we throw in a ‘the’ or an ‘a’ before it.

7. Gobshite (a much-loved Irish insult)

Another one for describing someone that’s done something stupid or for using against someone that you just don’t like. This Irish insult is arguably one of the best known, thanks to its use in the magnificent Father Ted series.

For example, “That Maura one is some gobshite. She’s only after putting diesel in her aul one’s petrol car. The things f*cked”.

8. Bollocks

So, the word ‘Bollocks’ is Irish slang for, eh, testicles. I can safely say I never thought I’d be writing a guide that included the word ‘testicles’…

You can use the word ‘bollocks’ in a number of different ways.

‘Bollocks’ as an Irish insult is usually used like this, “You’re some thick bollocks, Martin. Why on earth would you get sick on the kitchen door, when you could have opened the fu*king thing”.

You can also use it to describe a frustrating situation, for example, “I’ve a pain in my bollocks with the dog, man. He keeps biting me. Constantly. He’s also pissing everywhere.” 

9. Dope 

You can’t bate the word ‘Dope’. 

This is another Irish insult for someone that’s either 1, a bit dense or 2, has done something a bit dense.

For example, “That dope Conor’s after calling in sick. He says he has to mind his Mam. Apparently she’s after getting food poisoning from some dodgy chicken. Now, I know Conor’s Ma. And she’s a fu*king vegetarian.”

10. Gombeen (an old Irish insult)

This is a weird one. And I’ve only actually heard it used in Ireland once.

I was in a quiet little pub in Allihies in West Cork. As I was on my own, I was sat at the bar, chatting to the bloke behind it.

At one point, a fella came in and the two exchanged words at the end of the bar. After a minute, the fella left and the barman walked back up to me, referring to the chap as  ‘Some Gombeen’.

When I asked him who he was he replied that the man was the local salesman for a whiskey company who kept trying to sell them bottles of whiskey. 

A Gombeen is an old Irish insult/word that’s used to describe someone shady, or someone that’s a bit of a del-boy/wheeler-dealer-looking-to-make-a-quick-profit.

11. Eejit

Another one for describing someone that’s a bit dense. 

For example, “That eejit is after locking his keys inside the house again. I’m going to have to go over there with a clothes hanger and try and get the door open”.

12. Sap

Ah, sap. My dad has been calling me this since I was about 5. It’s at the point now where it’s nearly a term of endearment.

The word ‘sap’ is usually used to describe someone you dislike – “That sap Karen was here again on Tuesday. She’s the most ignorant huair you’ll ever come across”.

13. Geebag

Right. This is another one that you need to be careful with. This is used solely for women and it can vary in offensiveness depending on the person.

What does it mean? God only knows. But it’s usually used to describe someone that’s being irritating. For example, “Some geebag spilt her drink all over me and then had the cheek to say that I knocked into her!”

14. Langer

A word used in Cork to describe someone dense. There’s a lot of Irish insults to describe someone stupid…

For example, “Johnny’s little brother was seen last week riding that bike with no fu*king lights, the langer. I was tempted to clip him with the wing mirror to teach him a lesson”.

15. Lickarse

Ah. Another favourite. The word ‘lickarse’ is an insult that’s often used in schools and the workplace.

It’s used to describe someone that’s falling about the place trying to impress a figure of authority.

For example, “He’s such a lickarse. He was in here at half 4 this morning preparing that report, the prick”.

16. Lazy Hole

Unsurprisingly enough, this one is used to describe someone that’s afraid of doing a bit of work.

For example, “Get out of the bed, lazy hole – we need to clean the gaff after the party last night. There’s shit everywhere”.

17. Pox bottle

When I was a kid there were several Irish curses that my dad used to use (before I got to an age that he’d curse in front of me).

Pox bottle was always one of them. To this day I’ve absolutely no idea what it means and it’s one you don’t tend to hear used that often.

Rolls off the tongue nicely, though… Pox. Bottle.

18. Narkey Hole

Ah, narkey hole. I fell like I’ve been using this one forever.

Although this falls into the Irish phrase/insult category, I’ve only ever really used it with friends, in a reasonably tame manner.

It’s used to describe someone that’s in a bit of a mood. For example, “Come on narkey hole – if you don’t hurry up and get ready we won’t get a seat.”

Related read: Check out our guide to 101 Irish slang words and phrases: a locals guide.
irish curse words and phrases guide
@ Tourism Ireland photographed by Tom Archer

Longer Offensive Irish Phrases and Insults 

There’s a load of longer Irish phrases and insults that you can use to describe a variety of people and use in a number of situations.

Some of the below are playful enough, while others are reasonably offensive. I’ll add a little note to the more offensive ones so you know before you use them.

19. He could peel an orange in his pocket

In Ireland, we’ve many different ways to describe someone that’s cheap (tight with money).

This is one of my personal favourites – “Tom fu*ked off again without buying his round. Ah, shtap. Sure that lad could peel an orange in his pocket”.

20. He’s as thick as shite and only half as handy

The only two people that I know who use this are lads from Mayo, so this is possibly a west of Ireland insult.

Unsurprisingly enough, this ones used to describe a lad or lassie that’s a little bit dense. For example, “Carol’s young one was in working with us last week.” “Ah, she was on the same shift as me a few months back. She charged some lad 2 grand instead of 200 Euro. She’s as thick as shite and only half as handy – if even.”

21. If work was the bed he’d sleep on the floor

Another one for lazy fu*kers. 

This is probably fairly obvious, but this Irish insult is basically describing how far a certain person would go to avoid doing a hard days work.

For example, “I asked Declan to take that bin out twice now, but it’s still there. If work was the bed, that lazy bollocks would sleep on the floor”.

22. Tighter than a camels hole in a sandstorm

This is another Irish phrase you can use to describe someone that’s tight with their money. 

For example, ” That lad has owed me a tenner for the past 3 years. He’s tighter than a camels hole/arse in a sandstorm”.

23. An apple through a tennis racket

This Irish insult is fairly offensive. If you have a think about it for a second, you’ll probably be able to guess the facial feature that it makes fun of.

This is usually used when someone is referring to a person with fairly large front teeth. For example, “He has some chompers on him that fella – he’d have no bother knawing an apple through a tennis racket”.

24. The sea wouldn’t give him a wave

I’m laughing while typing this one as I haven’t heard it in years.

This is another one that could be fairly offensive, but the only time I’ve ever heard it used is between lads when they’re slagging each other.

It’s basically saying that the person isn’t attractive. Another similar Irish phrase that you hear used is “Sure the tide wouldn’t take him out”.

25. The head on you/ye/ya (multi-functional Irish phrase)

There are a million different ways to use “The head on ya” and while some are in no way offensive, others are. It all depends on the context.

For example, “Good God the head on you. How many pints did you have last night?” This is the non-offensive use of the phrase and you’ll hear it used when someone hungover walks into a room.

Another example (more offensive) would be, “The big thick head on your one over there.”

26. Face like a smacked arse

You tend to head this one used a fair bit to describe someone with a bright red face, either from physical excursion or embarrassment.

For example, “He’s been playing wrestling in the living room with his brother for the past hour. The state of him. He has a face like a smacked arse”.

27. The bleedin’ state of ye

This is a very North Dublin insult and one that I used to hear used a lot when I was a kid.

It’s used in a variety of ways and tends to be used by people who can’t muster the creativity to come up with a proper insult.

“The state of ye” is normally used to describe someone with a scruffy physical appearance, but you can also hear it used when one person is trying to hit someone with a hurtful insult but can’t think of one.

28. If she was any longer she’d be late

This Irish insult is used to describe someone that’s very tall.

For example, “The height of your man over there – if he was any longer he’d be late”. “That’s Tommy Monaghan’s young fella. They’re all big huairs in that family”.

29. If he had brains he’d be dangerous

This is another one for describing someone that’s stupid/after doing something stupid.

“That tool Michael Carthy was caught up in Cronin’s yard last Monday night with young Tony Slattery. The pair of them sniffing glue and drinking gin.” 

“Young Slattery’s like his aul lad. If either of them had brains they’d be dangerous”.

30. He wouldn’t give you the steam off of his piss

A slightly more vulgar Irish insult up next that’s used to describe someone that’s cheap/tight with their money.

For example, “I got a taxi home with Shane last Friday. It was 70 poxy Euro and he only told me when he was getting out that he had no money with him.” “He’s a miserable f*cker that lad – wouldn’t give you the steam off of his piss”.

31. Scarlet for your ma for having you

This is a Dublin insult that’s generally pronounced, “SCAR-LEEEEH FOR YER MAH FER HAVIN YEEEE”.

I haven’t heard this one used in a while, but it’s generally used on someone that’s done something embarrassing or stupid.

For example, “I heard you got sick all over Sheamus Morrisey’s front door last night, you mess. Scarlet for your ma for havin ye. You’d want to avoid his Mother for the next few months.”

32. He’s a Stingy bollocks 

Good God there’s a lot of Irish phrases for describing someone that’s tight with cash. Right, this is another one.

For example, “That stingy bollocks tried to get a discount on the Toyota we have out back. Sure I’ve already knocked 2 grand off of the asking price”.

33. She’s minus craic

‘Minus craic’ and ‘dry shite’ are both fine ways to describe someone that’s being boring.

For example. “Will you stop being minus craic and come out for a few pints. You can’t sit in here all night like a dry shite”.

Irish curses and insults
Creamy pints from the 2018 markets

What Irish curse words and insulting Irish phrases have we missed?

Have something that you think we should add?

Pop a comment into the comments section below and I’ll take a look!

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3 COMMENTS

  1. ‘Prick’ is an oft used term in my family. A ‘prick’ is someone you don’t like, or if someone calls you out on something. Especially if it’s someone you know… almost a term of endearment in our house.
    You coming for pints?
    No.
    Prick.

    Also, you left out ‘I willin’mehole’… (I won’t)
    Will you go to the shops for groceries?
    I willin’mehole

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