Irish Slang – Yoke

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

Yoke – Any thing.

This is one of the most commonly used Irish slang words and is completely interchangeable with the word “thing.” The Irish use it to refer to any object, although usually the item in question is annoying, irrelevant or unfamiliar to the person speaking.

Initially we thought it was “yolk” and had something to do with rotten eggs, but it doesn’t. After years of asking blank-faced Irish people where the term comes from (Irish folks use it so frequently they’ve probably never stopped to think about its origins) wifey and I have decided it probably comes from the farming term for an animal halter for ploughing – like a yoke for oxen.

The slang term “yoke” can be used in the following ways:

When needing assistance: “C’mere and help me with this yoke.”
When confounded: “What sort of a yoke is that?”
When curious: “Whatcha doin’ with that yoke?”
When frustrated: “This stupid yoke!”
When dealing with paparazzi: “Get that stupid yoke out of my face!”

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