Many people think that there is some significance to the fact that Cassidy was able to find phonetic ‘matches’ for his English candidate phrases in Irish dictionaries. This is not the case. These are hefty dictionaries, well over a thousand pages long. Cassidy wasn’t fussy about the pronunciation or indeed about the meaning. For example, he thought the origin of gump in the sense of chicken could be the Irish colm, which really doesn’t sound anything like gump and means a dove or pigeon! In other words, it isn’t difficult to pick a word and find a ‘suitable’ Irish phrase to be its ‘origin’.
Let’s take the surname Cassidy as an example. It comes from Ó Caiside. It is a surname from Fermanagh in the north of Ireland which means descendant of Caiside [pron. cash-idja]. There is no agreement about the derivation of the name Caiside.
However, let’s use some of Cassidy’s methodology to find a good derivation. What about casaoid [cass-eej, which means a complaint? After all, Cassidy was fond of complaining about dictionary dudes and WASPs who refused to recognise the value of his work!
Or what about cosúdar [pronounced coss-oodar]? Cos means foot, but also means proletarian in the phrase cosmhuintir, foot-people, the lower classes. So cos-údar could mean ‘a proletarian author’. (It couldn’t really but why should I be any more accurate than Cassidy?)
But my favourite would be this one. Let’s reference it the way Cassidy himself referenced his dodgy derivations.
The word cas [pron. cass] means ‘twist, turn, spin’ and oide [pron. idja] means ‘teacher’, so casaide plainly means ‘a twisted teacher, a lying instructor who puts his own spin on things, fig. a dishonest academic who invents all his research’. (Dinneen, 167, 810 ; Ó Dónaill, 194, 924; Collins, 406, 552).
See how easy it is? And how completely worthless?