The top 10 most savage Irish insults and what they mean

The top 10 most savage Irish insults and what they mean

We love Irish insults, so to celebrate this art form we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 favourites. Take a few of these for a spin on your next trip to the Emerald Isle and earn major props.

Irish insults are peppered through the conversation of just about every local person you meet. For a newbie, these can be highly confusing – but just listen to the tone of the speaker and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what they’re trying to say.

Here are the ten most savage Irish insults and what they mean.

10. Dope – it’s not a compliment!

Dopey the Dwarf, an accurate representation of the Irish insult of Dope.
Dopey the Dwarf. Credit: Loren Javier / Flickr

If you’re from the States, the word “dope” might have positive connotations for you. If you’re wandering through the streets of Dublin and someone shouts the word “dope” in your general direction, you may be tempted to give yourself a pat on the back. Don’t.

When we Irish say “dope”, we aren’t complimenting you. Think Dopey from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – that’s what we’re saying you are. A bit daft.

9. Dryshite – a hint that you’re no fun  

Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Irish people hate to be referred to as a dryshite. This is truly one of the worst Irish insults you can dish out, because it hits us where it hurts – in the craic.

If someone is a dryshite, they’re no fun. They’re the type of pal that leaves the session early to catch the last bus, citing an early morning or a charity 5km run the next day. Dryshites are allergic to craic, and simply incompatible with Irish culture. Save this insult for only the most desperate situations.

8. Eejit – an Irish insult for any conversation

The Irish insult Eejit is very similar to the English word 'idiot'.
Credit: JD Hancock / Flickr

This common Irish insult is more or less interchangeable with the English term “idiot”. It can be used affectionately – “Did you forget your lunch? Ah, ya big eejit.” You can also deliver eejit with a side of mild spite — “your man off the telly is some eejit”.

This word is very widely used – you can sprinkle it into most conversations and contexts in a very natural way. It’s the salt and pepper of Irish insults.

7. Geebag – maybe don’t use this one in the office

An office setting, maybe somewhere you won't want to use the Irish insult of geebag.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Geebag is a little bit more bold, and maybe not one you’d use in the office – though not strictly a swear word. “Gee” is a slang word for female genitalia, and “bag” does exactly what it says on the tin.

It’s just a very gas insult that you can gift to anyone you find particularly irritating, making it one of the more simple and effective Irish insults.

6. Wreck-the-head – someone who is really annoying

A visual representation of this insult. Credit: Roy Luck / Flickr

This one is fairly self-explanatory. If someone is wrecking your head, it means they’re doing your head in – aka really, really annoying you. Younger siblings in Ireland are commonly on the receiving end of this one.

It’s not a bold word (you can use it in your workplace or in front of minors) but it’s not something you’d particularly like to be referred to as yourself.

5. Bollocks – not one for the live radio interviews

Bollocks is a slang word for testicles. This term can be used as an expletive on its own (“ah, bollocks!”) but can also be conveniently transformed into an insult that you might direct at somebody.

For example – “yer man is some bollocks”, or “get off me ya little bollocks”. It’s generally used towards men, but in this progressive society you could really use it towards whoever you want. Note of warning – this one is a little bit higher on the bold scale, and would probably be bleeped out on TV before watershed. Don’t go using it in any live radio interviews.

4. Wagon – one of our favourite Irish insults

Wagon is one of our favourite Irish insults. Just saying it releases tension. Wagon is generally used when describing a narky woman. This one is safe for work – it’s a very PG bit of slang.

You can also change up your tone and use it affectionately (“Oi, that was my doughnut, ya wagon!”), and so can be used in many circumstances.

3. Gombeen – the Irish mammy favourite

Gombeen is a favoured Irish insult for the Irish mammy to use.
Credit: Larissa Arruguetti / Flickr

This one has its roots in the Gaelic language – coming from gaimbín, meaning corrupt or crooked. This mystical sounding Irish insult is a favourite amongst country mammys – who regularly refer to their naughty brood as gombeens for such transgressions as raiding the biscuit tin.

This is a very rural expression – expect some curious glances if you use it in anything other than a thick Irish brogue.

2. Gowl – Rubberbandit fans step forward

The Rubberbandits, users of the Irish insult of 'Gowl'.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Many believe that gowl has vulgar roots – the word “gabhal” means crotch in the Irish language. Colloquially, though, this Irish insult is thrown around liberally and basically just means you’re a bit of a goose.

It’s most commonly used in Limerick – if you’re a fan of the Rubberbandits you’ll already be familiar with one of the most savage Irish insults.

1. Tool – an Irish insult for any context

The face you make when someone acts a 'tool'.
The face you make when someone acts a ‘tool’.

Tool is one of those Irish insults that can be used in any context. Did the bus driver not stop for you? What a tool. Your boss make you stay late? Absolute tool. Yer wan off the radio with the squeaky voice? Jaysusing tool.

For the sheer versatility, tool lands the coveted number one slot on our top 10 favourite Irish insults of all time, beating off some stiff competition.