This is another extraordinarily silly claim made in Daniel Cassidy’s big book of nonsense, How The Irish Invented Slang, that the jazz term giniker comes from Irish. It is linked to his equally silly claim that jazz derives from teas, because according to him, teas is pronounced jass. It isn’t, of course (it’s pronounced tyass or chass).

The word giniker apparently means passion or energy while playing. Old jazz players used to talk about ‘the giniker fizz’. It’s a pretty obscure term and its origin is apparently unknown.

Because there’s a vacuum to be filled, Cassidy applied his vacuum of a mind to the problem and put a hole where the hole was. His suggestion is that giniker comes from tine caor, which he says means heat or lightning. This is incorrect, of course. The phrase tine caor means nothing. If you were pushed to give a meaning, you would probably say something like ‘fire of balls’ or ‘fire of round bright objects’ but it isn’t a recognised phrase and doesn’t make much sense. (Caor means a lot of things: berry, cannonball, fireball, pine cone.) There is a phrase caor thine (pron. keer hinna or keer hinnee) which means a fireball or a thunderbolt. And you could possibly put tine and caor together as tinechaor [pron. chinnaheer]. But would chinnaheer give rise to giniker? I doubt it and I’m certain keer hinna wouldn’t.

In other words, wherever giniker comes from, tine caor is just more old hot air and balls from the Great Fraud Cassidy.  

It is astounding to me that anyone would take this man’s ‘research’ seriously. I mean, this is the man who made up a fake (and seriously incorrect) Irish explanation for the Indian name of a FICTIONAL character (Gunga Din) in a poem by Rudyard Kipling! If that doesn’t qualify someone to be regarded as a seriously pixillated whack-job, then plainly anything goes, irrationality and insanity are just there to be celebrated as part of life’s rich tapestry and we should accept everything that anyone says uncritically. Great. I’ll get my hand-basket and off we go!

So, if we’re prepared to accept Daniel Cassidy as serious research, when people do a degree in cosmology or astronomy in future, they should presumably also learn about zodiac signs and personality and study articles from the Sunday Sport about how ‘aliens turned my son into a fish finger.’ Where’s the harm, eh?

1 thought on “Giniker

  1. Debunker Post author

    I have a confession to make. I made a mistake in this post. I thought about simply rewriting the post but then I decided that it would be better to add a comment and leave the post as I originally wrote it.

    The problem is this. The phrase tine caor is given in Dinneen’s dictionary with the meaning of ‘a raging fire, a thunderbolt’. I simply didn’t see it the first time I looked. It still doesn’t make sense to me, it is not in the main modern Irish dictionary Ó Dónaill and I certainly don’t believe that it is the origin of giniker but Dinneen shows that it probably existed and was used at some time among Irish speakers somewhere. Unfortunately, Dinneen’s dictionary is famously eccentric and is well-known for words like sleith (“carnal intercourse with a woman without her consent or knowledge”) and búdán (“a tube for blowing smoke or pepper through keyholes in Wren Play”) so it is not entirely reliable. As I say, I still think it is highly unlikely that this is the origin of giniker and the burden of proof is on the Cassidese Liberation Front to explain how an obscure phrase in Irish came into American slang in the 20th century, especially when there are so few genuine examples of Irish words entering the English language.

    I am adding this comment because I don’t want to be open to accusations of distorting or suppressing or cherry-picking information the way Cassidy did. The reader has a right to make up his or her own mind and I am not going to play the game according to Cassidy’s rules.


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