What's the craic, lads?
Craic is the Irish word that most confuses outsiders, yet it is a relatively simple concept. It is the atmosphere, fun, and carry-on surrounding a particular night out.
”How was the craic?” is the first question uppermost in most young Irish minds after a weekend.
"Craic" is a word that you may have heard before if you've ever been to Ireland or spoken to someone from there. It's a term that's often used to describe a good time, a fun experience, or a friendly conversation. However, the origins of this word are not widely known, and many people outside of Ireland may not be familiar with it. In this article, we'll explore the etymology of "craic" and its use in Irish slang.
The word "craic" (pronounced "crack") is derived from the Old English word "cracian," which means to make a loud noise or to brag or boast. The word entered the Irish language through the English language and was initially used to describe the sound of thunder or the cracking of a whip.
Over time, the meaning of the word shifted and began to refer to any kind of noise or commotion. By the 20th century, "craic" had taken on a more positive connotation and was used to describe a good time or enjoyable experience.
Today, "craic" is a commonly used term in Irish slang, and it's often used to describe a lively, social atmosphere. For example, you might hear someone say, "The craic was mighty last night," meaning that they had a great time.
The word can also be used in a more general sense to refer to any kind of enjoyable activity or experience. For example, someone might say, "I had great craic at the concert last night," meaning that they had a good time.
The word has become so ubiquitous in Ireland that it's even used in advertising and marketing campaigns. For example, the Irish Tourism Board has used the slogan "Ireland - the home of craic" to promote tourism to the country.
Here’s the encyclopedia definition: "Craic" (/kræk/ KRACK), or "crack" is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, particularly prominent in Ireland. It is often used with the definite article – the craic.
So now that you have a grasp on what craic is, here are all the different kinds of craic (as if you weren't confused enough!):
A fairly ok night out, fun but nothing too amazing.
Better than good craic, not quite at the highest level, someone did some crazy stuff maybe.
Almost there, great night all together, everyone on top firm, Guinness flowing, great jokes.
A step above savage but not quite the Everest moment.
The craic was ninety
The nirvana of craic, everything was amazing, incredible, everyone hooked up, the pints were great. No one is quite sure how the word ninety came into it--a famous Christy Moore song “The craic was ninety in the Isle of Man” maybe:
That’s when a night goes wrong and essentially you’d have had more fun in a mausoleum.
*Originally published in 2016, updated in Jan 2024.