Ara, isn’t the Irish language just beautiful? Don’t believe us? Check out our list of the top ten best Irish words that don’t exist in English.
You may have learned how to say ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’ in Irish before.
Still, if you really want to impress the locals, why not learn the most unique vocabulary of all?
Stay tuned because we are counting down the top ten best Irish words that don’t exist in English.
10. Duileasc – a tasty snack
You might have heard about ‘dillisk’, the anglicised version of this word. For those who don’t know, duileasc is a type of edible seaweed.
It is a salty snack that’s high in protein and vitamins.
In rural Ireland, local people grind duileasc down into a hot drink called ‘cairigín’ (carageen), which is their ‘cure-all’ for colds and flu.
9. Maint – everyone’s worst nightmare
Maint, pronounced ‘mon-th’, is a deep cut in the hair made accidentally by a barber. We hope that you have never experienced a maint.
This word was so horrifying that we just had to include it in our countdown of the top ten best Irish words that don’t exist in English.
8. Citeóg – one of the best Irish words that don’t exist in English
The word ‘citeóg’, pronounced ‘Ki-thoge’, means ‘left-handed person’.
During our school days, such people were widely believed to be creative and intelligent. Hands up if you’re a citeóg!
7. Deoram – a handy measure word for alcohol
Deoram (‘jo-rum’) is the Irish word for a mouthful of liquor. This word might pop up during last orders at the bar, so keep it in mind for your next visit to a rural pub.
We have included this word on our countdown of the top ten best Irish words that don’t exist in English because we love how oddly specific it is!
6. Sliotar – the hurling ball
A ‘Sliotar’ (‘shli-thur’) is the small ball used in a game of hurling. Hurling is one of our national sports born from ancient Gaelic origins.
You don’t know excitement until you’ve seen a sliotar launched into the air at a tremendous speed!
5. Lios – a word from Irish folklore
A lios, pronounced like ‘liss’, is a fort where fairies dwell. It is normally located in a field or on marshy land.
In the past, children were told to stay away from these fields because, according to folklore, meddling with fairies could lead to terrible consequences.
Although believing in fairies isn’t common anymore, many people in the countryside, whether speaking in Irish or in English, will still use the word ‘lios’ when referring to such fields.
4. Poitín – an Irish drink
Poitín (poteen) is a strong alcoholic drink from Ireland that’s usually made from potatoes. Like cairigín, it is known to cure the common cold.
Its taste is comparable to ‘soju’ from Korea, ‘saké’ from Japan, ‘baijiu’ from China, or ‘moonshine’ from the USA.
The Micil Distillery in Galway makes a fine poitín that we suggest you try while travelling in Ireland!
3. Bodhrán – the musical instrument
This word, pronounced like ‘bow-ron’, is a traditional musical instrument found in Ireland.
The bodhrán is a frame drum with one side made from goatskin while the other side is hollow.
The musician fits their hand inside the hollow side of the drum while beating on the goatskin side with a small drumstick.
Be sure to keep an eye out for bodhráns at your next Irish music session!
2. Bithiúnach – the worst (or best) insult you can receive
Bithiúnach is pronounced ‘bi-hoon-ach’ with a throaty ‘ch’ sound at the end.
A bithiúnach is a big ‘animal’ of a man. We are curious to know what kind of behaviour would earn someone this label!
1. Ara – one of the best Irish words that don’t exist in English
“Ara, no, not at all,” said every Irish person ever. You will often hear this word in English conversation even though the word comes from Irish originally.
‘Ara’ does not have an accurate translation in English. Some reckon it’s our way of saying ‘but’, ‘now’, ‘then’, or ‘really’.
However, none of these translations truly express the meaning of ‘ara’. We think ‘ara’ is similar to the use of ‘alors’ in French.
‘Ara’ is often used at the start of a sentence to show you are about to declare something or that you are on the verge of changing the subject entirely.
Still confused? Ara, sorry about that. At least now you are an expert on the top ten best Irish words that don’t exist in English!