Monthly Archives: May 2019

Cassidese Glossary – Doozer, Doozy

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.

Among the many claims made by Daniel Cassidy in his book, How The Irish Invented Slang, is one which is a real doozy, the claim that doozer comes from Irish duaiseoir, meaning a prizewinner, while the slightly different alternative version, doozie, apparently comes from the adjectival version duaiseach. If you don’t know any Irish, this sounds like a perfectly reasonable claim.

Both these Irish words are given in dictionaries. They are both derived from duais, the primary meaning of which is prize or award. However, duaiseoir was probably invented in the mid-twentieth century as the equivalent of English prizewinner. There is no evidence it existed before it appeared in Ó Dónaill’s dictionary in the 1970s. As for duaiseach, this is an adjective, not a noun (Cassidy conveniently gives its primary meaning as ‘a gift’, but this is his own invention – it is not supported by the dictionaries.)

Where does ‘It’s a doozie’ really come from? You can find a genuine and honest discussion of its origins here: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-doo2.htm.

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Cassidese Glossary – Doodle

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.

Doodle is an obsolete slang term for an idiot. You can find an account of its use and etymology here:

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/doodle

Cassidy claims that this derives from the Irish word, dúdálaí, defined by Ó Dónaill as:
dúdálaí, m. (gs. ~, pl. -aithe). Shy, self-conscious, person; stupid person.

This is given in Dinneen’s Dictionary (first published in 1904) as dúdálaidhe (which would be pronounced the same as modern dúdálaí) but there is no evidence that it existed before the late 19th century or that it is not derived from English doodle. In other words, it is far more likely to be derived from the English doodle than to be the source of that word.

Cassidese Glossary – Doggone

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 work of false etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that doggone is of unknown origin. This is untrue. The dictionaries are agreed that dog-gone or doggone is a 19th century Americanism and that it is a minced oath, a disguised blasphemy. The Oxford English Dictionary says it is ‘generally taken as a deformation of the profane God damn.’ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.) says that ‘doggone’ is an ‘alteration of the Scots dagone,’ which is in turn an ‘alteration of goddamn.’ Merriam-Webster says that it is ‘a euphemism for God damn.’

Furthermore, God damn and doggone are used in exactly the same way. Sometimes they are an exclamation, God damn it! (Doggone it!) What have you done? and sometimes as an adjective, Just take the goddamn (doggone) money already!

Cassidy claims that this derives from the Irish word dogairne and/or the Scottish Gaelic word dògan.

Dogairne is a rare word derived from docair (more usually deacair in modern Irish), which means ‘hard, difficult’. Dogairne is a noun, and is defined as ‘A gross, crude, person or thing.’ Doggone, of course, is not used as a noun. You can’t say ‘My cousin is a total doggone.’

As for dògan, this is a Scottish Gaelic exclamation. The Scottish Gaelic dictionaries make it quite clear that this is a borrowing from doggone or from the Scots equivalent. Note also that Cassidy once again betrayed his total ignorance of the Gaelic languages, as he wrote it as dógan. Anyone who knew the slightest thing about Irish and Gaelic would know that Scottish Gaelic always uses grave accents (the ones that slope back) while Irish always uses acute accents (sloping forward).

It is also an indication of Cassidy’s incompetence that he seems to think that giving two derivations strengthens his case. Of course, in reality, the fact that Cassidy provides two completely separate words in different languages just serves to show how easy it is to find a spurious Gaelic derivation, and how worthless his attempts at etymology were.

Cassidese Glossary – Doagin

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.

Apparently this is a slang term in Canada for a Catholic, especially a Catholic of Irish descent. It is generally believed to be derived from the Irish surname Dougan or Duggan (Ó Dubhagáin), perhaps from one particular family or incident that has not been recorded.

Daniel Cassidy, in his work of false etymology How The Irish Invented Slang, claims that it comes from an obscure Irish word do-dhuine, meaning an inhuman, wicked person. This is highly unlikely, for several reasons:

  • Do-dhuine is very obscure.
  • It doesn’t sound much like doagin.
  • Why would people who regard Irish Catholics as non-people use an obscure word in the language of Irish Catholics to describe them?

Cassidese Glossary – Dock

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.

This is another example of Cassidy’s selective treatment of his sources. Cassidy says that dock, meaning to take a chunk out of someone’s wages as a punishment, comes from the Irish tobhach, which means a levy. Tobhach is pronounced toe-akh or toe-ah, so it doesn’t sound a lot like dock anyway, but it would not be an entirely unreasonable suggestion if there were no better candidate.

And this is Cassidy’s claim, that there is no other candidate, that dock suddenly appears in English out of the blue in the 19th century. This is a distortion of the truth. Cassidy cherry-picked the information in the English dictionaries and only used what made his case look stronger.

Dock in the sense of taking a chunk out of your pay only goes back to the 1820s but this is merely a natural extension of the meaning of a word which has been used since the Middle Ages in English to describe the action of cutting an animal’s tail off. All dictionaries recognise that dock (cut off a tail) and dock (clip someone’s wages) are the same word. This word has been used in rural communities in England in the tail-cutting sense since at least the fourteenth century, so it doesn’t come from Irish.

Cassidese Glossary – Ditch

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 work of false etymology, How The Irish invented Slang, claimed that the word ditch (as in ‘she ditched him’) comes from the supposed Irish phrase de áit? This is untrue. The phrase de áit isn’t in use in Irish and never has been.

The two words exist independently, of course. De means from or ‘off of’, ‘from the surface of’ (bhain siad an pictiúr den bhalla – they took the picture off of the wall), while áit means place. And occasionally they occur together in idiomatic phrases like an phrochlais sin de áit (that dump of a place) or taobh amuigh de áit (outside of a place) but in the standard language, this would usually become d’áit and it isn’t anything to do with displacing or dislodging or dumping in these cases. If you want to say that someone displaced something or put it out of its place you would use as áit, not de áit: cuireadh na brící as áit nuair a thit an scafall orthu (the bricks were dislodged when the scaffolding fell on them). So, de áit is pretty much impossible as the origin of ditch.

The English ditch, on the other hand, is a very likely source. A ditch, meaning a kind of trench at the side of the road (or sometimes the bank beside the trench in Ireland), comes from the Old English word dic. And in the old days, when you had some rubbish you dumped it in the ditch, or ditched it. In time, this became a general term for discarding or dumping.

Cassidese Glossary – Dinger

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.

This word is from Middle English and probably derives ultimately from a Scandinavian language. Cassidy claimed that dinger comes from dianmhaith. This is an adjective and it derives from maith, which means good. The word dian is an intensifier. Dianmhaith would be pronounced jeeanwoy in the north, and deeanvah in southern dialects. Neither of these sound much like dinger.

In reality, dinger is derived from an English dialect term ding, which meant ‘to strike, push, hurl, batter, or bruise with energy, wrath or forcefulness.’ By extension, the word dinger could mean anything of a superlative character – ‘It’s a dinger!’

You can find more information on this here:

https://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/wordroutes/a-real-humdinger-of-an-etymology/