What Does Craic Mean? Your Guide to Irish Slang

Programs for this blog post

Arts + Sciences (Dublin City University)

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College Study Abroad

For those not from Ireland, the frequent use of “craic” by the Irish can be a little confusing. We get it. The concept can be a mix of a few different things. Read on as we dissect what craic really is. And, if you’re going on an Ireland study abroad program, use this post as your guide for all things craic.  

craic infographic ciee

What Does Craic Mean? 

Craic is a term used to describe a good time, a fun experience, or a friendly conversation and is commonly used in Irish slang.  

To get a better sense of the word craic, it’s helpful to understand its origins, dating back to the Old English word “cracian,” meaning a sharp noise or abrupt sound. The word morphed into meaning general noise or commotion and, by the 20th century, it was used in positive ways, referring to enjoyable experiences and a lively atmosphere.  

You may be asking, “why do Irish people say craic?” It’s an unusual word originating from Old English. The explanation is really that the word has transformed into a cultural staple in Ireland, and it can be more clearly understood with the use of American slang words. For example, “cringe,” meaning embarrassing, “dope” meaning cool or interesting, “woke,” meaning political and social awareness, or “flex” meaning showing off.  

Craic is used often in Ireland, in songs, signs, pop culture references, and more, so brush up on your craic understanding ahead of your Ireland trip! It’s pronounced like “crack,” so if you’re hearing it frequently throughout the Emerald Isle, just know it’s likely the Irish slang.  

ireland coast students hiking cliffs

The Six Levels of Craic 

If craic wasn’t complicated enough, there are a variety of ways to use the concept that are often broken down into six levels. Check it out: 

Level #1: Good Craic 

Good craic refers to a relatively fun night out – it usually means your experience wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t the best time you’ve ever had. It was just okay, or just “good craic.”  

Level #2: Mighty Craic  

Considered slightly better than good craic, mighty craic means you had a good night out, but it still wasn’t the most memorable occasion of your life.  

Level #3: Savage Craic 

A level above mighty craic, savage craic refers to a great experience. You likely have some fun stories to share from a savage craic and you’d do it all over again! 

Level #4: Deadly Craic 

It might sound a little ominous, but deadly craic is actually a step above savage craic, meaning you had a really great time and an incredibly fun night out!  

Level #5: Minus Craic 

As the name implies, minus craic refers to an experience or night out that went awry. Essentially, it wasn’t enjoyable, and you would’ve been content staying home.  

Level #6: The Craic was Ninety  

This unique phrase is at the top of the six levels of craic, meaning your experience or night out was out-of-this-world fun and exciting! You enjoyed yourself, your friends had a great time, everyone around you seemingly had an amazing night, and this occasion will be one story you’ll definitely rehash over the years.  

students visit castle in ireland

How to Use Craic in a Sentence 

There are a variety of ways you can use craic when speaking with other people. A few examples:  

  • “They’re great craic,” meaning they’re a lot of fun. 
  • “What’s the craic?” meaning is there anything going on? What’s happening?  

You’ll also hear it spoken in conversation during your Ireland study abroad program so make sure to note what you’re hearing and if you want, try to emulate the use of it in your own chats with others. It might make you feel a little more Irish!  

Take Your Craic Skills to Ireland  

Now that you know a little bit more about how to speak like a real Irish person, you should definitely take your craic skills with you on an Ireland study abroad trip. Trust us because studying abroad in Ireland is something we know a thing or two about (to say the least!). 

Study Abroad in Dublin 

CIEE’s many different study abroad programs take place in Ireland’s charming capital city of Dublin. They range from short-term trips to semester-long opportunities and even include internships for the business-minded. Our programs include

Ireland is Calling 

We’re certain you’ll be saying “the craic was ninety” when returning home from one of our Ireland study abroad programs 

Look into our options today and don’t miss out on the opportunity. (It would be minus craic if you did!)