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Irish Slang – Cute Hoor

old Irish man laughingBegorrah! Top of the morning!

Yes, two phrases you may have heard on Darby O’Gill and the Little People but that you will never actually hear spoken in Ireland. Most people have heard the Irish speak, but there are a lot of little things about their slang and turns of phrase that are often misunderstood by visitors.

Irish slang is definitely the thing that tickled our ears the most when we first moved here and that frequently tends to confuse our stateside guests. Below is the thirty-sixth in a series I’m publishing of some common Irish slang that used to confuse us when we first arrived.

Cute Hoor – Someone who tricks other people without being discovered. Clever or sneaky.

I heard this term used in conversation long before I REALLY understood what was being said. I thought the insinuation was one that compared a trickster to a prostitute. Then I saw it written as the subtitle on a poster for Margaret Mckenna Mullan’s play, The Sleeveens, and realised it was pure slang.

As to the origins of this phrase, I’d imagine that “cute” is being used in its old meaning as “small.” A cute hoor in Ireland doesn’t do anything truly harmful – it’s almost an affectionate term for someone who’s a bit of a chancer, given the opportunity.

“So I told the doorman I’d lost my wristband and he let me in without paying. Then, I drank for free at the bar because I convinced the staff I was the owner’s son returned from Australia.”

“Ya cute hoor, ya!”

If you found this post helpful, be sure to check out the rest of our series of Irish Slang.