Cassidese Glossary – Kitty

For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

The origins of the word kitty for a pot of money in a card or other game are unknown, though there are several possibilities. You can find some information at these links:

http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-kit2.htm

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=kitty

In Daniel Cassidy’s work of etymological fiction, How The Irish Invented Slang, Cassidy claimed that the word kitty derives from the Irish phrase cuid oíche. This is highly improbable.

The phrase cuid oíche (earlier spelling cuid oidhche) is an historical term. It literally means ‘a night’s portion’ and it refers to the entertainment which a lord could expect from his subjects. It is pronounced roughly as cudge-eeha and has been anglicised as cuddy and cuddihy. In other words, it is not a good match for kitty in terms of pronunciation or of meaning.

 

Cassidese Glossary – Kinker

For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

The word kinker, according to the late Daniel Cassidy in his work of false etymologies, How The Irish Invented Slang, is a slang term for a circus performer or a circus act. However, he also implies that kinkers were surly, rude or snooty.

Kinkers, adj., surly, rude; fig. snooty person) were the stuck up stars of the circus.

Ingeniously, he manages to find a quote from Jim Tully’s Circus Parade (1927) to back him up in this claim.

The performers were more snobbish than any class of people I have ever known. They did not talk to the lesser gentry of the circus save only to give commands. They were known as the ‘kinkers’ to us.

Cassidy needs to emphasise this snobbishness because his candidate for the origin of kinker is the Irish geancach, which means a person with an upturned nose (geanc) or a snooty person. (Cassidy only mentions the secondary meaning.)

Kinker doesn’t sound much like geancach, of course, and geancach certainly isn’t the origin of the circus slang word. How do I know? Well, when you look up kinker on line, all becomes clear. Kinkers weren’t just circus performers. Kinkers were acrobats or contortionists. If you think of all the contorted and twisted and crooked meanings of the word kink in English, the word kinker is self-explanatory.

Cassidese Glossary – Kike

For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

The term kike is an offensive ethnic slur used by the ignorant and anti-Semitic in reference to Jewish people. There are numerous theories about its origins but no agreement. The main theories seem to be that it is from the Yiddish for circle, because Jewish people who were illiterate in the Roman alphabet often signed with a circle where Christians made their mark with a cross, or that it comes from the common Jewish name Isaac.

The late Daniel Cassidy, in his work of false etymologies How The Irish Invented Slang, assumed that he had solved this riddle with his revelation that almost all American slang derives from the Irish language. According to Cassidy:

Ciabhóg (pron. k’i’óg), a person adorned with a forelock or sidelock; al. a forelock, a sidelock. Ciabhóg (pron. k’i’og a forelock, a sidelock curl) is the Irish word for the long sidelocks of the Orthodox Jews called peyos, as well as a person that wears forelocks or sidelocks.”

Cassidy, who spoke no Irish at all, made use of dictionaries to do his ‘research’. This claim is based on the entry for ciabhóg in Dinneen’s dictionary (the expanded 1927 edition):

ciabhóg, -óige, -óga, f., a small lock of hair; a fore-lock, a sidelock; a person adorned with a fore-lock or side-lock.

Of course, this is a diminutive of ciabh, meaning a lock of hair. In spite of the fact that it says sidelock, this simply refers to a lock on the side of person’s head. There is no specific word in Irish for the sidelocks worn by Orthodox Jews. It is entirely possible that native Irish speakers created a term for these sidelocks in the slums of the USA when they encountered Jews who wore sidelocks but I have no idea what that term was and neither did Cassidy. The word ciabhóg, like almost all Irish words referring to people and ending in -óg, is applied to women and girls, not to men or boys. (The only exceptions I can think of are gasóg and scológ.) The only instance of ciabhóg being used of a person in the Corpas (a corpus of Irish-language texts) is a political poem by an anonymous poet of the sonnet-like type known as trí rainn agus amhrán, where Ireland is addressed as a faithless (female) lover – mo léan, is bréagach an chiabhóg thú (alas, you are a false, curly-haired girl!)

However, the main reason why ciabhóg and kike could not be connected is pronunciation. Ciabhóg is pronounced keea-wogue or keea-vogue. It sounds absolutely nothing like the English kike. The only similarity is the first letter.

Cassidese Glossary – Kid

For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

The word kid, meaning a young goat, entered the English language a long time ago from Old Norse. It acquired the meaning of child in informal contexts around the year 1590.

Daniel Cassidy, in his work of false etymologies, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that the word kid comes from the Irish word cuid. In order to make a case for this, he homes in on several meanings of the word cuid that suggest a link with endearment and children:

“Cuid (pron. kid, cuid, kidj), n., share, part, portion; a term of endearment, love, affection. A chuid (pron. a khid), my dear; mo chuid de’n tsaoghal (pron. mo khid den tael), all I have, my darling; a chuid inghean (pron. a khid inyian), his daughters; a chuidín (pron. a khidín, a khijín), my little dear. (Dineen, 281, 282; Foclóir Póca, 326.)”

In fact, cuid is one of the most widely-used words in the Irish language. It is not pronounced like kid, as you can hear in the sound files on focloir.ie which are given in the three main dialects of Irish, Ulster, Connaught and Munster:

https://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/bit#bit__3

You can also find a full description of its uses here, as given by Ó Dónaill:

https://www.teanglann.ie/en/fgb/cuid

As you can see, cuid can be used in phrases like mo chuid éadaigh (my part of cloth, my clothes), ith do chuid (eat your portion, your food), a gcuid airgid (their part of money, their money), a cuid Gaeilge (her part of Irish, her Irish). It can even mean sex, as in the phrase Bhí cuid aige di (= He had it off with her).

English kid does not derive from the Irish word cuid, which, apart from one phrase (a chuid) has nothing to do with affection or love. The English word kid meaning child derives from the English word meaning a young goat, as any sensible person already knew.

Cassidese Glossary – Keister

For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

This seems to be a common expression in America but it is completely unknown in Ireland. It is used to mean ‘bottom’ and seems to be an informal and inoffensive word often used with children. According to Daniel Cassidy in his work of pseudo-etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, this word derives from the Irish word ciste meaning ‘chest, coffer, treasure, fund’. This is nonsense. The Irish word is derived from Latin, either directly or via an Old English borrowing.

The original Latin word is cista, which means a chest or box. This Latin word was also borrowed into German as Kiste, which is pronounced quite like keister. The German expression Kiste has several meanings. One is trunk or case and the other is what you use to sit on a trunk or case, your backside. This is the origin of the word keister in American speech. As I have already said, the term keister is completely unknown in Irish English, and the word ciste does not have the meaning of backside, so Cassidy’s claim is obviously incorrect.

Cassidese Glossary – Keen

For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

Daniel Cassidy, in his work of fake etymologies, states that the English verb ‘to keen’ comes from the Irish word caoineadh, which means to cry, to mourn or to lament. This is entirely correct. However, the Irish origin of keen is given in all the English dictionaries and long predates Cassidy. You can find more information here: https://www.etymonline.com/word/keen

In fact, Cassidy claimed that there are hundreds of words of Irish origin in American slang which bigoted etymologists had refused to recognise. Examples like this show that where words genuinely derive from Irish, etymologists are more than willing to admit the fact.

Cassidese Glossary – Kabosh, Kybosh

For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

I have posted before about the supposed Irish origins of the phrase ‘to put the kybosh on something’. In a post called Putting The Kybosh On Cassidy (May 2016) I pointed out that kybosh has often been claimed to be of Irish origin, a corruption of caip bháis or caidhp bháis, meaning death cap. The usual explanation for this is that it refers to the black cap donned by a judge when passing the death sentence, though other claims include that it refers to a method of torture used by the English called pitch capping, or to a part of a shroud that covers the face of the dead. There is no evidence for the phrase caip bháis existing in Irish at all, and caidhp bháis is only used in the late 20th century as the name of a fungus known as the death cap in English.

Cassidy found the claim about the Irish origins of kybosh online and included it in his book but it is clear that this particular mythical etymology predates Cassidy by almost one hundred years.

We don’t know where the word kybosh really comes from. You can find an interesting discussion of the term kybosh by Anatoly Liberman on the OUP blog:

https://blog.oup.com/2013/08/three-recent-theories-of-kibosh-word-origin-etymology/

As I stated in another blog post, More On The Irish Origins of Kybosh, I found an explanation for the myth about the Irish origins of the word in the Irish Newspaper Archive. The earliest references to the word in Irish newspapers were in 1909. They were also by far the most interesting. In an article called An American Professor on England published on November 29th 1909, an anonymous staff author of the Freeman’s Journal wrote:

Many expressions familiar in American-English are clearly translations or adaptations from the Gaelic: not a little slang was good idiomatic Gaelic, and such an extraordinary word as kybosh – “to put the kybosh on a man or a scheme” – takes a very curious interest when, as Mr J.H. Lloyd tells in one of his invaluable vocabularies to Irish poems or stories – it is traced to the extinct phrase “the cap of death” – i.e. the black cap of the hanging judge.

J.H. Lloyd, or Seosamh Laoide, was an Irish language expert. However, Lloyd himself then replied to this on December the 2nd in the Freeman’s Journal, complaining that his views had been misrepresented:

Dear Sir – In your issue of 29th November, one of your leader writers, towards the end of the article “An American Professor on England”, quotes me in connection with the word “kybosh”, to put the kybosh on a man or a scheme. So far, he is correct. When, however, he adds the explanation “the cap of death,” apparently attributing this to me, he is very much astray.

In the vocabulary to Mac Mic Iasgaire Bhuidhe Luimnigh, published by the Gaelic League, I set down that caidhp bathais, to my surmise an expression of the lost Leinster dialect of Irish, was the probable etymon of “kybosh”.

He goes on to say that caidhp bathais would mean the cap or coif of the crown of the head. He says that kybosh could not come from caidhp báis because the o of kybosh is a short vowel. He states clearly that he has never actually found an example of this phrase in use in the Irish language (“though I have failed to find the word in use in an Irish dress”). In other words, the myth about caidhp bháis can be traced to one mistaken reference in 1909 and has been repeated endlessly ever since.

However, while there are plentiful uses of kybosh, coybosh and even caidhp bháis in the Irish papers from the second decade of the 20th century until the last few years, there are absolutely no traces of caidhp bháis, caip bháis, caidhp bhathais or caip bhathais (or any of the versions without the séimhiú which modern Irish grammar would require) anywhere before the 1909 references. This is 75 years after kybosh’s first appearance in England. And we need to note that many expressions like spraoi and craic have made their homes in the Irish language and been accepted as intrinsic and ancient parts of that language by its speakers, even though they aren’t.