The Irish have a way with words, even when it comes down to describing a potato!Getty Images

The potato, for better or worse, has played a major role in Irish life and as such, despite being a vegetable, it’s had quite an influence on Irish culture and even on the Irish language.

Such was the relationship between the people of Ireland and the lowly spud that a simple search of the Irish terminology database téarma.ie will uncover no fewer than 90 different terms involving the word potato (though, granted, not all completely linked to the edible kind).

The need for greater speed was obviously important when discussing potatoes as several concepts relating to the food that would require a phrase or string of words to describe in English are mashed down to one-word terms in Irish.

The main Irish word for potato is “práta” (prawh-tah) and it’s this word that is used most of the time. There are loads of other options, however, if you wish to be more precise.

We take a look at some of the most spud-tacular words.

1. Paidrín (pad-reen)

Meaning: very tiny potato

Image: Getty images.

Image: Getty images.


Sadly, the word paidrín is also the Irish term for the rosary. Could this be a reflection on your need for a prayer if your potato crop turned out to be small?

2. Sliomach (shli-muck)

Meaning: very wet potato

Image: Getty images.

Image: Getty images.


Even the sound of this word makes us think of something mushy.

3. Creachán (cray-cawn) / Sceidín (shced-een) / Póirín (pour-een)

Meaning: very small potato

Image: Getty images.

Image: Getty images.


The term “creach” by itself means a loss or a pity, perhaps another nod to the need for large potatoes. “Póirín” can also mean “small round stone.”

4. Caldar (kal-dar) / Peil  (pell)/ Cnap (k-nop)

Meaning: very big potato.

Photocall Ireland.

Photocall Ireland.


“Peil” is also the Irish for football and if you add “caldar” before the words “fir” or “mná,” you can describe a big, robust man or woman.

5. Ionam (Un-um)

Meaning: Sweet potato

Image: Getty images.

Image: Getty images.


The sweet potato can also be called by its more literal term “práta milis” (milis meaning sweet) or práta Spáinneach (meaning Spanish potato).

6. Dradairnín (Drad-arh-neen / Screamhachóir (shcrave-a-core)

Meaning: small useless potato

Image: Getty images.

Image: Getty images.


The Irish were obviously very concerned with the potato crop turning out small and unusable.

7. Práta Breac (prawh-tah brak)

Meaning: semi-rotten potato

Image: Getty images.

Image: Getty images.


8. Sceallóga (shkal-og-gah)

Meaning: French fries (or chips in Ireland)

Image: Getty images.

Image: Getty images.


9. Sceallán (shkal-awhn) / Scoilteán (skull-tawn)

Meaning: potato set

A potato set is a potato or a part of a potato used as a seed.

10. Brioscáin (bris-kawn) / Criospaí (chris-pee)

Meaning: potato chips (crisps in Ireland)

Críospaí Tayto.

Críospaí Tayto.


11. Smoladh (smul-ah) / Dúchan (doo-can)

Meaning: potato blight / disease.

A potato blight is often blamed for destroying the food source of the Irish people and causing the 1840s Great Hunger.

A potato blight is often blamed for destroying the food source of the Irish people and causing the 1840s Great Hunger.


Smoladh is the term used to describe a potato disease now, but dúchan is a more historical term used to describe the blight that hit potato crops in Ireland in the 1840s and was blamed for the Great Hunger.

12. Langán (lan-gawn) / Scealbhóir (shcel-vore) / Logán (log-awn)

Meaning: portion of potato left after removing sets.

Potato heart.

Potato heart.


These three terms refers solely to the part of the potato that is left once a part has been taken away to be used as a seed.

13. Falcaire (fal-k-ra)

Meaning: old seed-potato.

Image: Getty images.

Image: Getty images.


A seed potato is a potato that has been planted and used for the production of seeds (like a potato set). Falcaire specifically refers to the potato once is has been used for this purpose.

14. Brúitín (brew-teen)

Meaning: mashed potato.

Getty images.

Getty images.


“Brú” means to force or to put pressure on.

15. Sámhaí (saw-vee)

Meaning: couch potato.

Ok, so this is not an exact description of a potato but we still thought it was a cool word. Use it on any lazy bones who can’t get up from the couch and see their looks of confusion.

H/T: tearma.ie

* Originally published in 2015.