Welcome to the third installment of “Five words from …” our series which highlights interesting words from interesting books! Up now is Tana French’s The Trespasser, a crime thriller that’s chock-full of excellent Irish slang.
His accent has got stronger. I put on the Thicko Skanger act too, now and then, but I do it for suspects, not for my own squad. Sometimes Steve makes me want to puke.
Thicko Skanger, skanger, or scanger seems to be the Irish slang equivalent of the British chav, a disparaging term for a young, presumably uneducated person with a brash sense of style and manner. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) says thicko is a shortening of thickhead, a stupid person.
Breslin’s planning on working a long shift, for a bog-standard case.
Something bog-standard is something ordinary, basic, or unexceptional. The OED says the origin is uncertain but cites the theory that it’s an alteration of box-standard, an old term for the hollow column or standard for a machine, with bog meaning a lavatory or toilet.
That was the gaffer getting all up in our grille.
A gaffer is a boss or foreman. According to the OED, the term was “applied originally by country people to an elderly man or one whose position entitled him to respect,” and might be a contraction of the word godfather. The same sense carried over to gaffer meaning the head electrician on a movie or TV set.
From the outside, my gaff looks a lot like Aislinn Murray’s.
Gaff in this context means a house, building, or home. Other meanings include a fair and a public place for cheap entertainment.
We’d be banjaxed anyway.
Meaning ruined, stymied, or confounded, banjaxed is a fun Irish slang term with an unknown origin. The OED’s earliest citation is from the 1939 novel, At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien: “Here is his black heart sitting there as large as life in the middle of the pulp of his banjaxed corpse.”
Because The Trespasser is full so much great slang, we had to include some bonus terms:
- bent adjective Corrupt, venal. Bent cops exist. Fewer in real life than on the telly, but they’re out there.
- scut work noun Trivial and tedious tasks. For a second I think Breslin’s gonna tell me to stick my scut work, but instead he says, “Why not,” although there’s a twist to his mouth.
- naff adjective Unstylish or cliched. One of the reasons I don’t trust O’Kelly is because of his office. It’s full of naff crap.
- kip noun Sleep. Go get some kip. Ye look even worse than this morning.
- skint adjective Poor, broke. But they’re both skint as well.
- spa noun An idiot or clumsy person. You spa, you. Come on and get this case meeting done.
- bolshie adjective A leftist; short for Bolshevik. I say, just bolshie enough, “Because I didn’t want to.”
- bickied adjective Drunk. He was always so bickied he kept forgetting he’d already tried and got nowhere.
Check out our first two installments of “Five words from” right here: Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson and The Peripheral by William Gibson.