This is another incredibly stupid claim made in Daniel Cassidy’s staggeringly incompetent book How The Irish Invented Slang. Apparently, goo-goo is an American slang term for upper class ‘reformers’. This term derives from the phrase Good Government, and there was a string of Good Government clubs at the end of the 19th century promoting this ideology (

Daniel Cassidy, of course, begs to differ. No, this well-known and well-attested derivation is wrong. Really, it has its origins in the teeming Irish-speaking slums of New York and represents the Irish guth guth. The Irish what? I hear you ask – especially if you speak Irish. Guth guth, says Danny the Dork, a reduplication of Irish guth meaning voice or (rarely) blame. So according to Cassidy, this phrase means:

‘guth guth (pron. guh guh), complain, complain; reproach, reproach; blame blame; censure, censure; fig. blah, blah.’

Is this true? No, of course not. There is absolutely no evidence of this phrase existing anywhere outside of Cassidy’s fantasy world. It’s that well-known English phrase, shit shit.


Seo píosa cacamais eile i leabhar sáramaideach Cassidy How The Irish Invented Slang, cacamas atá chomh bómánta sin, is deacair a thuiscint cén fáth a gcreidfeadh duine ar bith é. De réir cosúlachta, is téarma é goo-goo a bhí in úsáid i Meiriceá le cur síos ar dhaoine saibhre a bhí sásta tacú le hathleasuithe rialtais. Níl aon amhras faoi bhunús an fhocail seo. Tagann sé ó GG –Good Government, agus bhí slabhra de chumainn Good Government ar fud na Stát i ndeireadh an 19ú haois a bhí ag cothú na hidé-eolaíochta seo (

Ní chreideann Daniel Cassidy sin, ar ndóigh. Dar le Cassidy, tá an tsanasaíocht seo (míniú a bhfuil a lán tacaíochta ar a shon) mícheart. Deir Cassidy go bhfuil bunús an téarma le fáil i bplódcheantair Ghaelacha Nua-Eabhraic agus is ionann é agus an ‘Ghaeilge’ ‘guth-guth’. Ar ndóigh, ní Gaeilge sin. Níl ciall ar bith leis an tsainmhíniú a thugann Cassidy air:

‘guth guth (pron. guh guh), complain, complain; reproach, reproach; blame blame; censure, censure; fig. blah, blah.’

Is raiméis cheart é an sainmhíniú seo. Níl fianaise ar bith ann go raibh an frása guth-guth in úsáid riamh taobh amuigh de bhlaosc chraiceáilte Daniel Cassidy. Lena rá i mbeagán focal, níl ann ach an friotal clúiteach Gaeilge sin, cac-cac.

4 thoughts on “Goo-goo

    1. DebunkerOfCassidy Post author

      Interesting! The word hygge, I believe, is derived from the Norse word that gave us the English word hug. Several people (including Loreto Todd) tried to argue that hug is from the Irish chuach, which means to bundle or wrap up, and can also mean hug as well. Of course, inflected forms usually aren’t borrowed, so you would expect it to be borrowed as ku-akh or ku-ah, neither of which sound anything like hug (and the Norse origin makes more sense anyway!) 🙂

      1. Marconatrix

        Reaching for his handy norsk lommeordbøker …
        hygge, s. comfort, ease; v. make comfortable. vr. feel at home;
        hyggelig, a. comfortable, snug, cosy.
        Though I suspect that this would have come into English as something like ‘higg’, in other words the whole business is most probably a sgadan ruadh.

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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 )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.