Irish slang – petrol

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 twelfth installment in my series of common Irish slang that used to confuse us when we first arrived.

Petrol – As in, “petroleum.” You know, reaaaallly old organic matter that has been trapped underground for millions of years and then pumped to the surface and processed into a liquid so you can put it into the rental car you’re driving across Ireland.

Unlike the states, the petroleum product you put in your car’s fuel tank is not called “gasoline” here, but “petroleum.” Hence, no “gas” at the pump. If you ask for “gas” at the petrol station you’ll be pointed to the racks of orange and yellow butane cylinders that contain gaseous fuel for lamps and heaters, which IS referred to as “gas.”

Don’t worry, I still slip up and refer to the petroleum liquid I put in my car as “gas.” It’s just one of those ingrained things for people from the states.