Archive: The Lads

The Lads

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, have a bit of craic . But ‘the lads’ 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. Some unfortunate bosses, desperate to keep up with modern trends have been known attempt ‘lads and lassies‘ with unfortunate results.

‘The lads’ can also be people you don’t know well but whom you find yourself spending time with such as people you meet at a conference…

“Well lads, will we have a drink?”..

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

Within families it is used also. 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 get out so much, my understanding of ‘the lads’ has extended itself beyond humans. There are two inseparable doggie friends up the road, a Yorkshire Terrier and his pal, a Basenji, 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.’

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

‘The lads will be back soon.’

So ‘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 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. But 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…’



  1. Very interesting! Here in America we don’t use the word ‘lads’. To our ears it sounds antiquated and charming. We use ‘guys’ a lot but it doesn’t have the same connotations.

    Russians have the word ‘ребята’ which is used very much like you use ‘lads’. If you put either ‘guys’ or ‘lads’ into Google translate, you get ‘ребята’. Technically it means ‘boys’, but it’s used for people of any gender.

    We all need to get out more! 😜

    Liked by 1 person


  2. I confess to feeling a teeny-weeny bit uncomfortable using the term ‘lads’ to describe a mixed group; similarly, it’s a little disrespectful, I feel, for a stranger (say a waiter) to address a group of middle-aged folk as ‘guys’ – though that is more common than ‘lads’. But then, I use the expression ‘chaps and chapesses’ just to wind some people up.

    Liked by 1 person


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s