Irish Slang – Homely

old Irish man laughingOf all the countries in the world that commonly speak English, the Irish are known particularly for their deft command of the language.

What you may not know is that the language arrived on some strange shores when it crossed the Irish sea. While visitors may understand most everything that’s said (aside from a few extremely thick local accents), it’s usually the little bits of slang and mild differences in certain words that confuses visitors.

This is the fifth in a series I’ve been publishing of some common Irish slang that used to confuse wifey and myself when we first arrived.

Homely – Used in Ireland to mean cosy or “home-like.”

When this word is used stateside, it’s a kinder way of saying “ugly.” The first few times we heard it used here the conversation went something like this,

Irish friend: “Her new place is really homely.”
Yankee Blogger: “Wow, that sucks. Can she paint it or fix it up?”
Irish friend: “Sure, why would she want to do that?”
Yankee Blogger: *shrugs* “I guess it’d be less effort to leave it as it is . . . “
Irish friend: “It’s grand the way it is.”
Yankee Blogger: “That’s cool.”

It took us more than a year here to finally have a conversation where we realized our understanding of the word must be different.

Just recently an Irish friend here in town found out that in the states “homely” means ugly and was so surprised, she asked the yankee she knew (me) firsthand just to see if it was true. Understanding her astonishment, I produced the dictionary and we marveled at how trivial our lives are.