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Irish Slang – Grand

old Irish man laughingSo you think you’ve got a handle on the English language. So ya think you’ll take a holiday (that’s vacation to you, Mr & Mrs USA) to Ireland and understand what folks are saying.

Think again.

Although Ireland is a predominately english-speaking nation, there will be moments when you’ll wonder whether that’s true or not. It’s not the Irish language, but the way the Irish use English that is truly unique. One of the things that tickled my ears the most when I first moved here and that tends to confuse our stateside guests is some of the slang. Below is the thirty-ninth installment in my series of common Irish slang that used to confuse us when we first arrived.

Grand – Good, of acceptable quality.

In a recent conversation with an Irishman who spent some time stateside he mentioned this word created some communication difficulties.

In the United States, “grand” is used quite literally to mean something impressive in scale, elaborate or significantly superior. Here in Ireland it’s bandied about carelessly the way “fine” would be used in the states. When my friend would say something was “grand” in response to a question like, “Is that all right for you?” his yankee hosts would take it to mean he really loved it or was impressed by it.

This became apparent fairly quick and he explained that “grand” in Ireland didn’t mean anything special, it just meant things were “okay.” Apparently this backfired and his hosts began overusing it in every conversation, “It’d be grand if you could please pass the salt.”

Visitors to Ireland will hear this word used quite frequently and should keep in mind its more casual meaning here. There’s no need to get too familiar with this word yourself (as my friend’s hosts inadvertently did), but using it to replace the word “fine” in your vocabulary is perfectly acceptable.