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Irish Slang – Shift

old Irish man laughingYou speak English. You’ve heard most of Ireland does as well. You may have heard the Irish speak the best english in the world. In any case, the last thing you may be expecting is communication difficulties on your visit to the emerald isle.

Most of the potentential pitfalls in your conversations may come from the slang used here. This is the thirty-second in a series I’ve been publishing of some common Irish slang that used to confuse us when we first arrived.

Shift – To kiss someone open-mouthed.

Keeping in line with the past two weeks’ slang terms, this week’s slang is concerned with the more carnal aspects of Irish life.

Making out, French kissing, snogging – call it what you will, if an Irish person says they “shifted” someone, it doesn’t mean they shoved them off a bench or taught them how to drive a manual transmission automobile, it means they had a pretty successful romantic encounter – this would be to say they “got to first base” in US slang.

To confuse matters, this slang term is used elsewhere in Europe, namely Britain, to mean a sexual encounter. It does NOT mean this in Ireland, it means there was kissing and that nothing else transpired.

“Didja meet up with your one?”
“I did.”
“And didja shift her?”
“I did.”
“Good man!”