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.
According to the late Daniel Cassidy in his work of false etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, the name of the card game Faro comes from the Irish language, along with (according to Cassidy though not to Hoyle) almost every term concerned with gambling in the English language. I personally know almost nothing about gambling and card-playing but I have read what various experts have said about the origin of the name Faro.
According to the experts, the game is known in French as pharaon, in English as faro, pharo or farobank. It first makes its appearance in south-west France in the late 17th century under the name pharaon, which is French for pharoah, ( Egyptian king). According to the Wiki article: ‘Historians have suggested that the name Pharaon comes from Louis XIV’s royal gamblers who called the game pharaon because of the motif that commonly adorned one of the French-made court cards.’ This seems to be uncertain but the fact that it is derived from the French word for pharaoh isn’t in any doubt.
Daniel Cassidy decided that faro had to be Irish and then tried to find an equivalent in the Irish dictionaries. For some reason he ignored farradh (roost) and fearadh (grant, bestowal, gift, excretion), both of which sound almost exactly like the English word faro and opted for the Irish fiaradh (to slant, warp, sheer or distort) or, when explaining pharaon, fiar araon. (slant, warp, sheer or distort both). Fiaradh doesn’t mean to turn as in to turn a card over, of course – that’s tiontú or iompú and fiar means to slant, warp, sheer or distort. In fact, fiar is what Cassidy did to the truth in his etymology! The ‘Irish’ phrase fiar araon is pretty much meaningless, and fiaradh is pronounced feeroo anyway, which is not a good match for faro.
In short, Cassidy’s claim is nonsense.