Booby

Another utterly ridiculous claim made by Daniel Cassidy in his crapfest, How The Irish Invented Slang, is the one that booby as in ‘Daniel Cassidy is a complete booby’ or ‘booby trap’ comes from Irish (or perhaps from Scottish Gaelic, as he cites Dwelly’s Gaelic dictionary as well). The word boob or booby in the sense of a dunce, simpleton or Daniel Cassidy supporter is first recorded in English in 1599. It is thought to derive from the Spanish word bobo, which in turn derives from Latin balbus (cognate with Irish balbh). There is also a word búb meaning a scream or a yell and búbaire can refer to the bittern, which makes a loud noise, according to the Kirk- Ó Broin Glossary in the late 17th century. This may be a separate, onomatopoeic word, entirely different from the word meaning idiot, though it is hard to say. 

There is no evidence for the existence of búb or any variant of it in Irish or in Gaelic in the sense of idiot before the word first appears in English. At this time, Irish was borrowing heavily from English and we find words like gósta (ghost) and búr (boor) in abundance in Irish texts of the 17th century. There is very little evidence of any borrowing the other way, apart from the fraudulent nonsense invented by Daniel Cassidy. In other words, this is an English word, probably of Spanish origin, which was borrowed into Irish, not an Irish word borrowed into English.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s