It’s a Doozy!

Among the many idiotic claims made by Daniel Cassidy in his crazy book, How The Irish Invented Slang, is one which is a real doozy, the claim that doozy (or doozie) comes from Irish duaiseoir, meaning a prizewinner. If you don’t know any Irish, this sounds like a perfectly reasonable claim, especially when you consider that it is sometimes given as doozer. However, I have often thought it would be good to conduct an experiment by presenting unbiased Irish speakers (I’m biased) with some of Cassidy’s made-up phrases to see if they recognise them. And strangely enough, this is exactly what happened on an Irish language forum with this word. You can see it here: http://www.daltai.com/discus/messages/13510/14283.html?1128946130.

Cassidy was a member of this forum, The Daltaí Boards. One of the posters on this forum put up a link to a very interesting site with some information about Old Irish, which (incidentally) is well worth checking out (http://www.sengoidelc.com/node/317).

 Cassidy, under the name Dancas1, then posted a comment – “Dennis, a chara: that’s a duaiseoir. I sent it out to my Irish Studies list. Go raibh maith agat”.

One of the other posters, Aonghus, then said “Dancasl – if you meant “winner” then “buaiteoir” is the word you’re looking for.”

Cassidy replied: ‘Aonghus: I meant “prizewinner.” Duaiseoir [or duasóir]. (see O’Donaill, p. 455)  Though “buaiteoir” is a duaiseoir.’

 Another poster, called Dennis, said rather diplomatically in Irish that the word is in the dictionaries with the meaning prizewinner but that he had never heard it anywhere else. However, he said, it’s a very good word and he would probably use it.

Aonghus then said, also in Irish, that ‘Ní fhaca duaiseoir in usáid riamh. Sin an tuige gur luaigh mé buaiteoir – rud atá feicthe go minic agam. Bíonn “curadh” fairsing freisin’ (I have never seen duaiseoir in use. That’s the reason that I mentioned buaiteoir – something which I have often seen. Curadh is also common.’)

In other words, duaiseoir is a dictionary word but not a common word in speech. In fact, it doesn’t occur in Dinneen’s dictionary (1904) at all. Presumably, it was invented from the word duais, meaning a reward or prize in the mid to late twentieth century. So the chance of it being used casually by a nineteenth century Irish peasant to mean a good thing is zilch.

So, where does ‘It’s a doozie’ really come from? You can find a discussion of its real origins here: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-doo2.htm.

Once again, Cassidy’s fake Irish claim is nonsense.

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