I always assumed the phrase "craic on" was actually "crack on", however my naivety was corrected today when I was informed that the correct spelling is, in fact, "craic".

I have never seen this word before. Where did it come from and what does it actually mean?

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    Craic. (It seems the person correcting you is unaware of the etymology.) Jan 7, 2014 at 9:21
  • When you used 'nativity' did you perhaps mean 'naivety'? Perhaps it was an assumption of your spell-checker.
    – WS2
    Jan 7, 2014 at 9:44
  • is it possible that it's a form of carraig(rock) which would then be, "rock on", a very well known idiom? Jan 7, 2014 at 23:38
  • @Susan, that could possibly work in some southern dialects where I believe carraig would fall into one of the groups of words that have their original initial stress rudely snatched away. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any dialects, not even in the far south, mixing up voiced and unvoiced stops in stressed syllable coda like that. Not to mention that the other dialects would have to have borrowed it from the south, which is also uncommon. It seems quite unlikely to me, all in all—not impossible, but quite unlikely. Jan 12, 2014 at 20:33
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    @kalina, your naïvety may remain quite untainted. You can tell whoever told you the correct spelling is ‘to craic on’ that (s)he is completely and utterly wrong. The correct spelling is ‘to crack on’. ‘Craic’ is (as indicated in the answers and comments) used only as a noun meaning ‘good fun’. In other cases, the word is spelled ‘crack’. Jan 12, 2014 at 20:38

2 Answers 2


It is an Irish word (pronounced 'crack') which means an enjoyable social activity, a good time, with lots of laughter (and usually booze). Someone returning from holiday might say - 'the beach was not very good but the craic was wonderful'. In Scotland and the North of England 'crack' is also used to mean 'conversation'.

  • 3
    Actually, OED says The English word was apparently introduced from Scots into Irish English via Ulster in the mid 20th century and subsequently borrowed into Irish. We were using it in SE England back when I was a student in the 70s (going to a disco "for the crack", for example). I doubt I ever saw it written down then, nor when it became something of a "catchword" for Irish stand-up comics in the 80s. To be honest, until now I'd assumed the craic spelling was just a later affectation to emphasise the fact that the Irish in particular like using the word. Jan 7, 2014 at 12:46
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    +1 But a link/source would be helpful
    – bib
    Jan 7, 2014 at 14:12

Actually, without invalidating WS2's fine answer there is the British English idiomatic phrase (lets) crack on: “Crack on” can mean either “start” or “continue”, depending on the context and progress of the activity

We’ve got a long journey ahead of us. Let’s get cracking. (Let’s go / start now.)
I’ve still got a lot to do so I better crack on

TFD defines it as:

to continue to do something as quickly as possible

Curiously, in Australian English, to crack on to is:
seek to form a sexual relationship with (someone).

Thus depending where or from whom the OP heard the following expressions; crack on, crack on to, or the Irish craic as in

Séamas: "Come into to town, it's great craic!

either one of the three may be correct.

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