‘Crack’ in Irish Slang Is Used Often: But Not For The Reason You Think

As a young Irish person, born and reared in the heart of the midlands, I feel qualified to answer the question: “What is the meaning of craic?” (pronounced as “crack” in English)

If you’re staying in Ireland for an extended period or just want to learn a little bit more about the Irish culture, you’ll need to know what the term craic means.

Craic or crack is a versatile slang word related to having a good time. It is one of the most commonly used slang words in Irish English.

In this post, we will define craic, provide some examples of how it’s used in conversation, and explain how we can form sentences with the word craic.

Meaning of Craic

Craic is an Irish word that can be translated to mean “fun,” “enjoyment,” or “good times.”

It’s a term that is used to describe the good vibes and atmosphere of a party, night out, or gathering. It can also be used to describe a person.

Craic is a versatile word that can be used in a number of situations. It’s perfect for describing good times with friends or family and will make you sound like a true Irish speaker!

Usage of Craic 

Here are some examples of how craic is used in everyday conversation:

“We had great craic at the pub last night.”

Meaning: We had great fun at the pub last night.

“He’s always up for a bit of craic.”

Meaning: He is a fun person to be around.

“The holiday was great craic. I loved the nightlife.”

Meaning: The holiday was enjoyable.

“She’s great craic to be around.”

Meaning: She’s great fun to be around.

“The craic was mighty.”

Meaning: It was great fun.

“We watched the hurling match for the craic.”

Meaning: they watched hurling (Irish sport) for fun.

“That’s bad craic.”

Meaning: that’s not acceptable behavior (“bad craic” is not widely spoken in Ireland)

Asking a Question with “Craic”

“What’s the craic?” / “How’s the craic?”

Meaning: What’s going on? What’s happening?

“Was last night any craic?”

Meaning: Was last night any fun?

“Any craic?”

Meaning: Any news?

Craic vs. Crack

Of course, it’s important to distinguish the difference between craic and crack.

Crack is a type of drug, whereas craic is a slang word for fun or enjoyment. Let’s not confuse the two!

As the term craic is so common in Ireland, Irish people will know what you are talking about even if you spell it wrong.

However, they will most likely think you are talking about crack cocaine if you go to a different country. Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend using this term in other countries outside of Ireland!

Alternative Phrase to “What’s the Craic”

When greeting one another, Irish people often ask, “What’s the craic?” which means what is happening or what is going on.

This is another slang phrase used mostly in Dublin, Ireland. It also means “what’s the craic” or “what’s happening.”

History of the Word “Craic”

Craic was borrowed from the English word “crack” since at least 1968.

“Crack” was derived from “crak,” a Middle English term that meant “loud conversation, bragging.”

In Northern Ireland and Scotland, expressions such as “what’s the crack” with “crack” were meant in the context of “news” and “gossip” originating from this region.

The term is recorded as far back as the 1770s in Scotland and as far back as 1825 in Northern England.

It is believed that the term entered Ulster from Scotland in the mid-20th century before being borrowed into Irish.

The catchphrase “Beidh ceol, caint agus craic againn,” popularized by Irish RTE TV, means that we will have music, conversation, and fun. This aired on SBB ina Shuí from 1976 to 1982.

While still, some artists, such as Christy Moore, spelled it as “crack” in the ’60s and ’70s, The Dubliners adopted the Irish spelling in 2006 in their album: “Too Late to Stop Now: The Very Best of The Dubliners.”

Scottish Gaelic also borrowed the term craic in the 1990s, but we don’t know if they took it directly from the Irish or the English.

The Scottish use the term to this day, but it’s not as widespread as in Ireland. Similarly, it is spoken in certain parts of England and Wales.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know what craic means, you can start using it in your own conversations!

Craic is a great way to show that you’re familiar with Irish culture and want to engage in some light-hearted banter.

Have fun with it, and enjoy the good times! Sláinte!

Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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