Top 20 Irish phrases used by the English include ‘Christ on a bike’ and ‘on me tod’


‘Christ on a bike’, ‘I’m grand’ and ‘it’s bucketing down’ are some of the most popular slang phrases made famous by the Irish – but commonly used by the English, researchers have found.

A poll of 2,000 UK adults found 46 per cent often use the term ‘I’m knackered’ but only 11 per cent are aware that its origins are commonly credited to the Emerald Isle.

And 86 per cent didn’t know the phrase ‘On me Tod’ – meant to describe being all alone – is believed to have Irish roots.

A further 92 per cent assumed their frequently used reference to being ‘wrecked’ was of English heritage – when in fact it is considered more Celtic.

And 85 per cent mistook ‘shut yer gob’ as being something which originated this side of the water.

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Lads at the St Patrick's Day parade in Birmingham, United Kingdom
Many sayings originated from the Irish way with words (file image)

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It also emerged three in 10 English people admitted they can’t resist putting on a dodgy Irish accent when they encounter an Irish person.

The research was commissioned by  ahead of its Irish Lotto draw this St Patrick’s Day (17th March), whose spokesman said: “Ireland is rumoured to have turned out so many of our everyday turns of phrase, from having a gander to being on your Tod.

“There’s much that we can learn from our Irish counterparts but it’s nice to know that so many of us from England, Scotland and Wales have adopted some Irish lingo over the years.

“It’s a great time of year to think about all the amazing things to have originated in Ireland as we approach St. Patrick’s Day and hopefully, when time allows and we can cross the waters for a visit, but until then, at least we can celebrate from home.”

Young women at the St Patrick's Day parade in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
The Irish are known for being fun and witty (file image)

The study found 18 per cent of adults are confused about the meaning of ‘I’m on me Tod’ assuming it meant someone was drunk or sitting down.

Only 26 per cent would understand someone was asking for the toilet if they asked for ‘the jacks’, with the remainder assuming they were being asked for money owed, or the police.

And 13 per cent of respondents didn’t realise a ‘pint of the black stuff’ referred to a pint of Guinness.

Instead, four per cent thought it was ‘bad news’ and three per cent mistakenly believed it was descriptive of ‘heavy rain’.

Two kids in green skip down road at the St Patrick's Day parade in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
St Patrick’s Day is normally such fun (file image)

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Only 16 per cent could identify the Irish term ‘deadly’ as being something with positive connotations rather than bad – with others assuming it meant something bad, expensive or likely to kill you.

But despite the confusion, seven in 10 adults claim to love the Irish and Northern Irish accents – although six in 10 struggle to tell the two apart.

Four in 10 adults find the Irish accents charming, while 32 per cent describe them as lilting and a further 25 per cent musical.

And only 45 per cent of adults polled via OnePoll for Lottoland have visited Ireland, although 71 per cent would love to go when current restrictions allow.

A man stands at the St Patrick's Day parade in Birmingham
St Patrick’s Day is usually a sea of green fun (file image)

A spokesman for Lottoland added: “This St Patrick’s Day, we’ll truly miss being able to celebrate the holiday in style, at pubs and clubs and restaurants as we normally would.

“However, there’s still a chance to win big on the day with the Irish Lotto draw, and of course there’s nothing to stop anyone celebrating St Patrick’s Day at home!”

For more information, visit the Lotto Land website.


1. I’m knackered
2. It’s been donkeys’ years
3. It’s bucketing down
4. Have a gander
5. I’m on me Tod
6. I’ve had a whale of a time
7. Shut your gob
8. I’m wrecked
9. He’s/she’s an eejit
10. It’s grand
11. What’s the craic?
12. Yer man
13. You’re a chancer
14. You’re a phoney
15. Christ on a bike!
16. That’s deadly
17. He’s a dosser
18. Let’s bunk off
19. I dig it
20. Where are the jacks?

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