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.
Craps is an American term for a dice game played out on the street. When I dealt with this before, I made the mistake of taking a traditional explanation as proven fact, the notion that it came from New Orleans and represents a contraction of French crapaud, toad, because people squatting as they played it resembled toads. As I was writing this, I checked the facts and found that the favoured explanation now (according to the American Heritage Dictionary) is that a low score of two ones (now snake eyes) was formerly known as crabs, and this word crabs morphing into craps is understandable enough.
Whatever the genuine origin, Cassidy’s claim is that it comes from the Irish crath [sic – should be croith]! abair! ‘shake! speak!’ because people in a craps game shout the number as they throw (and shake) the dice. Of course, this phrase would sound nothing like craps but apparently, this is a contraction … A contraction of a non-existent (and extremely unconvincing) phrase. The sound of the word for shake is also not a good match, and not what Cassidy thought it was. You can find some sound files in the three main dialects of Irish here: https://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/shake