Here in Ireland we use the phrase ‘the lads’ a lot. ‘The lads’ can refer to groups of males or females or a mixture of both. For many of us ‘the lads’ are our closest friends, the ones we can let our hair down with and have a bit of craic but it can be applied to other groups too. ‘The lads’ can be work mates who may or may not be such good friends (though if they are giving you a really hard time you’ll most likely refer to them as ‘the bastards’ rather than ‘the lads’). Your manager may refer to you as ‘lads’ to engender a feeling of camaraderie, though with the trend in PC-ness they may well feel the need to say lads ‘and lassies’ which will never win anyone over. ‘The lads’ can also be people you don’t know well but whom you find yourself spending time with such as members of your sports club, people at a conference and so on…

“Well lads, will we have a drink?”..

..bestows a feeling of familiarity. And the drink helps too I suppose.

Within families it is used too. My brother refers to his kids as the lads and when my parents are going to visit them they always say they are going to see the lads. My brother and his wife are included in this but it is understood, by me anyway, that the kids are the main ‘lads’. In fact any group, no matter how small, that comes together with a positive spirit can be called ‘the lads’.

Maybe its because of my wonky hearing, which means I don’t go out in big groups so much now, but my understanding of ‘the lads’ has extended itself beyond humans. There are two inseparable friends up the road, a Yorkshire Terrier and his pal, a Basenji, if Google serves me right, who, when they can escape their owner, hide behind a bush ready to jump out at passing cars. Luckily for them they are very bad at hiding and I always say to myself when I see them from 200 yards off…

‘There are the lads now, up to no good.’



When I run out of bird food to feed my gang of sparrows I remind myself that I must get some seed for ‘the lads’. If I see a gang of rooks I think…

‘Would you look at the lads, they’re having great craic.’crows

When I think of the swallows at the end of the winter, I say to myself…

‘The lads will be back soon.’


‘The lads’ are symbolic of good connections. They are either your own crew or another crew in whom you recognise the friendships you enjoy or have once enjoyed. Even if you think you have no ‘lads’, when you recognise ‘the lads’ anywhere that means you are, always, one of ‘the lads’.

Slightly worryingly, I have found myself thinking of inanimate objects in this way too. My old boss Ans (who you can read about here) used the direct translation from Dutch when she spoke in English to refer to objects…

‘Ya dis chair he is broken..’

…she would say and immediately the chair would have my sympathy. I liked the idea that no matter how hostile an environment is, there will always be something that you can project feelings of camaraderie onto. Being bullied at the office? Chairy will have your back. No one talking to you? Desky’s on your side. Mad as I may be starting to sound, so far I have not referred to anything inanimate as ‘the lads’.Until this morning that is…

I was looking out the window at two pairs of socks and a pair of knickers I had left on the line over night due to sheer laziness. There they were, abandoned the previous evening in favour of the ‘big’ clothes, flapping forlornly in the rising wind, alone against the elements, only each other for comfort and the sky darkening from the west.

“I must bring the lads in before they get wet”…I said to myself.

And then I thought…

‘I need to get out more…’




33 responses to “THE LADS

    • Thanks Manqindi…I had to look up antonym!The ins and outs of the language were never my strong point but I know now…and I like that observation…like lads and bastards :)…as always, nice to hear from you.


  1. Isn’t it funny that we speak more or less the same language and ‘lads’ doesn’t mean any of that over here. Almost the opposite usually. I wish I’d been able to think of my desk and chair as being on my side when I was at work. Perhaps they were and they just didn’t feel the need to bring it to my attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is funny the way language evolves..And the usage of lads here is very particular to Ireland and maybe even just the southern part too I think…And I am laughing now at the thought of your desk and chair staunchly, silently supporting you!Thanks April.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi! Really interesting to hear how the usage of “lads” is slightly different in Ireland to how it is in Northern England. I love the term, and “lasses” too 😊 I am now going to start thinking of all groups of animals as “the lads” – I think that’s brilliant!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really enjoyed this! I love the concept of the phrase being associated with good connections and that you’re always a part of them even when the others aren’t around 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jo…that’s great to hear…I enjoyed writing it for that reason, it sort of solidified my thoughts…sure you’re never alone if there’s a bit of furniture or underwear around 🙂 🙂


    • Do Jane…We’ll give language anthropologists of the future something to think about ..Those guys are too bad at hiding to get run over…I always stop along side them and ask what they think they are doing and they sit in the bush pretending they weren’t up to anything 🙂 🙂


  4. Fascinating look at lads! We don’t use the term much here but I do like it – so much better than guys! There was an old TV show, “Magnum P.I.” and two Dobermans were called lads by the owner. Husband and I still say we would love to have the lads! Their names were actually, Apollo and Zeus and he would have the lads patrol the estate.All the best to you these days, Claire! I talk to inanimate objects too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks CC…inanimate objects are often the best conversation partners I find 🙂 :)..I remember Magnum, I didn’t know the dogs were called the lads though…Thanks for visiting, hope life is good.


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