Gage

I notice that a new group of fools has recently been taken in by Cassidy’s childish guff, the online community of dope smokers. An article recently appeared in an online journal of potheads which repeats some of Cassidy’s stupid claims, including the claim that gauge or gage, a slang term for dope, derives from the Irish gaid.

Gaid is the plural of gad, which means a withe (a flexible stick) or else rope, usually rope in the form of a halter or noose (as in damhsa an ghaid, the gallows dance, dance on the end of a rope). Of course, rope is sometimes used as slang for cannabis, but not because it looks like rope. Ropes were made of hemp, which is cannabis. The word canvas also comes from cannabis. The chances of gaid being the origin of gage/gauge are next to zero. I mean, withes? If the deal of grass you’ve bought looks like someone’s chopped up a basket, you’ve been had … Modern Irish speakers tend to call cannabis raithneach (fern) or féar (grass).

The mainstream dictionaries give various possible sources. One is a 17th. century term for a pipe, which seems fairly unlikely to me. Another often-quoted idea is that this is a corruption of ganja, a West Indian term for dope derived from one of the Indian languages like Hindi or Gujarati. However, it seems that gage was also used as a term for a small quantity of something (possibly related to the word gauge meaning measure) and the term ‘a gage of tobacco’ is recorded from 1837. This last origin seems to be the strongest candidate.

Whatever the truth about this word, Cassidy’s claim is bollocks and supporting obvious nonsense like this long after it has been discredited is really not the best way of convincing people that cannabis has no damaging effect on the brain.

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