Abbreviation of interrupt request line, and pronounced I-R-Q. IRQs are hardware lines over which devices can send interrupt signals to the microprocessor. When you add a new device to a PC, you sometimes need to set its IRQ number by setting a DIP switch. This specifies which interrupt line the device may use. IRQ conflicts used to be a common problem when adding expansion boards, but the Plug-and-Play specification has removed this headache in most cases.