Fresher’s Week is underway at Queen’s University Belfast! Met your new flatmates? Made lots of new best friends to suffer through the trials and tribulations of university life with you? Of course you have! But what if you can’t understand anything that your new Northern Irish friends are saying!? Well, don’t worry. As Queen’s Radio’s finest foreign import, and in order for you to get to grips with the first week of your university experience, I would like to provide you with a brief guide on the local Belfast/Northern Irish slang.

Meeting Your Housemates

So, you’ve moved in, unpacked your bags and said a fond and tearful farewell to your parents – it’s time to meet your fellow housemates and potential muckers (meaning: friends, e.g. “alright mucker” = “hello friend/mate”). As Norn Iron’s (meaning: Northern Ireland) capital city, you’ll meet all kinds of people. Along with Belfast natives, you’ll probably meet someone from Stroke City (meaning: Derry/Londonderry) and you’ll get to know a large number of culchies (meaning: people from the countryside i.e. not from Belfast or Stroke City, e.g. Co. Tyrone). And no, just because you can’t see the H&W cranes from your bedroom window, you’re not a culchie.

Getting used to living with new people is a challenge. You may be living with an absolute melter (meaning: an annoying person), a waster (meaning: layabout, aka. skiver or lapper) or a complete hallion (meaning: idiot, aka. buck eejit). But no matter where you’re all from or what they’re like, as long as you’re up for the craic (meaning: up for a laugh/having fun) then you’ll all get on fine!

Going Out

It’s Friday night! Or Saturday… or Thursday… even Monday night. That means one thing: it’s time to go on the swall (meaning: go for a drink, aka. sesh). So pick out your best party clothes and have a great time. You should probably get a taxi though. Belfast is by the sea and at night it is baltic (meaning: cold/freezing, aka. foundered). First stop: Wherever the craic (see up for the craic) is likely to be!

It’s nearly 2 a.m. already? Time flies when you’re having fun. But uh-oh! One of your housemates is a half sesh (meaning: a lightweight/easily drunk), two of them are slabbering (meaning: talking disrespectfully) about each other. It’s time to go home. But you can’t go straight home. No, of course not! Let’s go for a dander (meaning: walk/wander) and get some food. Now that you’ve sampled the fabled Northern Irish pastie (Meaning: fluorescent pink meat in batter, i.e. not a Cornish pastie) you can finally get to bed. But guess what? Your drunken housemate won’t shut their bake (meaning: shut their face; bake = face) and you let you get some sleep! It’s enough to melt your head (meaning: to annoy you, see absolute melter).

The Next Day

What a night. And what a thumping hangover! Oh my, what were you thinking? Dancing like that on stage?! Boking (meaning: being sick) on the dancefloor?!?! Shifting (meaning: kissing, aka. meetingStroke City term) that guy/girl after you just met them?!?!?! You must be so scundered (meaning: embarrassed). Oh well, what’s done is done. Let’s help soothe that hangover. After a nice bap (meaning: roll, e.g. sausage or bacon bap) or an Ulster Fry (meaning: cooked breakfast) you’ll be grand (meaning: fine).


So, there you have it – a crash course in local slang to get you through Freshers Week. Getting to grips with the local tongue is all part of your experience at Queen’s University Belfast. There is a lot to learn (not all of it has even been discussed in this article…),  but don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it soon enough.

Matthew Kirk

Matthew Kirk

Host of 'Maximum RPM' 2014-2017
Winner of 'Radio DJ of the Year' at's National Student Media Awards (SMedias) 2017 - three cheers for heavy metal!
For opportunities, please contact:
Matthew Kirk