Cassidese Glossary – Buster

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.

If you look at Douglas Harper’s excellent website, Online Etymology Dictionary, at, you will find that the word buster apparently first surfaced in the 1830s in the Missouri/Arkansas area. Its original meaning was an exceptional thing or a very strong man and it seems to derive from bust as in break. It also came to mean a spree and the kind of person who would be out on a spree.

Cassidy ignores these facts and inexplicably decides that buster means a fellow, a joker, a roisterer and that it comes from the Irish word pastaire.

According to Ó Dónaill, pastaire means “cheeky fellow; brat”. Of course, there is no evidence linking pastaire with buster, and Cassidy only manages to make a case by changing the meanings so that both words apparently mean ‘trickster’.

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