It’s a strange talent to boast of, but the Irish people have always been somewhat inventive with their swearing and cursing abilities and none more so than the native Irish speakers, who are particularly gifted.
Irish curses lose some vital ingredients when translated into English, so we feel it’s only fair to give everyone the opportunity to sound out a few artistic expressions in the native tongue such as driving through a sea of lunatic drivers or shoving yourself into wedged bars full of people who refuse to move out of your way.
Here’s how you handle it:
Shock, or mild exasperation as Gaelige
As ucht Dé: For God’s sake! (literally “from the breast of God!”)
In ainm Dé: In God’s name! (also works well for “for God’s sake!”)
Dia ár sábháil: God save us! (a nice stand-in for “WTF” or “you’re f****ng kidding me!”)
Ticked off at someone as Gaelige
Imigh leat: Off/away with you!
Gread leat: “Beat it/shove off!”
Imeacht gan teacht ort: “Go away and don’t come back!” (literally “leaving without returning on you”…the implication being that you’d just as soon the person crawl off somewhere and die.)
Go hIfreann leat: “To hell with you!”
Let ‘er rip! as Gaelige
Go n-ithe an cat thú is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat: “May the cat eat you and the devil eat the cat!”
Go n-ithe an tochas thú: “May you be eaten by the itch!”
Briseadh agus brú ar do chnámha: “Breaking and crushing to your bones!”
Go ndéana an diabhal dréimire de cnámh do dhroma ag piocadh úll i ngairdín Ifrinn: “May the devil make a ladder of your backbones while picking apples in the garden of hell!”
H/T: Audrey Nickel at bitesizeirishgaelic.com.
*Originally published in 2014, updated in March 2021.
Do you know any special phrases in the Irish language? Let us know in the comments!