Cassidese Glossary – Bucking

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.

Daniel Cassidy, in his book of false etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, claims that the word bucking comes from the Irish word buachan, meaning to win.

“Bucking, buckin’; bucking the “tiger.” To play against a faro game; to go up against, or defeat (someone or something). Origin obscure. (OED.)

Buachan, Buchan (ar) (pron. búŏċan’, búŏċan’ar), v., gain, winning (a victory), defeating, overcoming, going up against. Buachan ar dhuine (búŏċan’ ar ghinǝ), to prevail over someone; buachan ar rud, to defeat something.”

Let’s just take a look at these claims objectively. Firstly, the claim that the OED says that bucking is a word of obscure origin seems to be untrue but because Cassidy does not cite a year of publication or an edition or give a direct quotation, there is no way of knowing. Certainly, the online OED states quite clearly that the verb buck comes from the noun buck meaning a male animal:

This is the buck of bucking broncos and bucking the trend and bucking the odds and bucking the tiger. It is an English word and makes complete sense with its given meanings of (of a horse) to perform a buck, (of a vehicle) make sudden jerky movement, oppose or resist (something oppressive or inevitable) ‘the shares bucked the market trend’.

It’s the word buck meaning a dollar that is described as origin obscure in the OED.

As for the Irish, once again we have the peculiar phoney system of transcription invented by Cassidy. In reality, buachan is pronounced roughly as booa-han, which would not become bucking in English. Also, the n’ of Cassidy’s transcription shows that Cassidy did not understand Irish phonology. This is used in Irish phonology to indicate a palatal phoneme. The n of buachan is not palatal.

There are also some strange things in Cassidy’s definitions of the Irish word. Ó Dónaill defines it as 1. Win, gain. 2. (With ar) Defeat, overcome. 3. (With ag, le) Succeed.

The meaning of ‘to go up against’ seems to be pure invention. It is not from any Irish dictionary.

Why does this matter? Well, as is clear from one of Cassidy’s examples below, if the Irish word means defeat or overcome rather than go up against, this is not appropriate for the meaning of the English verb to buck:

“… some people thought we were loco to buck the Tiger.”

In other words, you wouldn’t say people thought you were mad for defeating the system. If you defeated the system, you won. Cassidy’s fake definition of ‘to go up against’ is necessary for the claim of an Irish origin from buachan to have any credibility at all, which is why he invented it.

To summarise, the verb buck comes from the English word buck meaning a male animal. It has no connection to the Irish verb buachan which is not a good match in terms of meaning or pronunciation.

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