Craic (/kræk/ KRAK) or crack is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, particularly prominent in Ireland. It is often used with the definite article – the craic – as in the expression “What’s the craic?” (meaning “How are you?” or “What’s happening?”). The word has an unusual history; the Scots and English crack was borrowed into Irish as craic in the mid-20th century and the Irish spelling was then reborrowed into English. Under either spelling, the term has great cultural currency and significance in Ireland.
The Dictionary of the Scots Language records use of the term in Ulster in 1929. Other early Irish citations from the Irish Independent relate to rural Ulster: from 1950, “There was much good ‘crack’… in the edition of Country Magazine which covered Northern Ireland”; or from 1955, “The Duke had been sitting on top of Kelly’s gate watching the crack.” At this time the word was, in Ireland, associated with Ulster dialects: in 1964 linguist John Braidwood said of the term, “perhaps one of the most seemingly native Ulster words is crack…. In fact the word is of English and Scots origin.”It can frequently be found in the work of 20th century Ulster writers such as Jennifer Johnston (1977): “I’m sorry if I muscled in on Saturday. Did I spoil your crack?” and Brian Friel (1980): “You never saw such crack in your life, boys”.
Posted by Rita. Updated 20 November 2021.