Cassidese Glossary – Blow (2)

For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

Cassidy is happy to accept that all of the meanings of the word blow in English, such as beating, rushing, departing, treating, are all from Irish bualadh, with one exception. According to him, when blow means to snitch, it is from a different word, béalu:

Blow (2)  n., to snitch, to inform on someone, to “squeal.”

Béalú (pron. bæl-ú), vn., (act of) speaking about; gossiping; fig. snitching.

This is very strange indeed. Béalú is an incredibly rare word. It is not given at all in Ó Dónaill’s Dictionary. It is given in the earlier Dinneen’s dictionary of 1927 (though not the first edition of 1904 which is available online from CELT at Cork University) but there it is written béalughadh, in the old pre-reform spelling with its many redundant letters. It means to talk about someone or to gossip about them. There is no evidence that it has ever been used of ‘snitching’.

It seems far more likely that ‘blow’ is another slang use of the English word ‘to blow’. It may specifically be from the early 19th century British slang expression, ‘to blow the gaff’, which means ‘to tell people something which was supposed to be kept secret,’ or perhaps from ‘blowing the whistle’.

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