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.
There is absolutely no doubt about the origin of the English word feud. You can find the facts here:
Daniel Cassidy, in his book of false etymologies, How The Irish Invented Slang, drew on the work of another phoney etymologist, the 19th century writer Charles Mackay. Mackay is interesting in that he is one of the first people to identify crankdom and the kind of fake nonsense that now pervades the internet, in his book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, published in 1841. Unfortunately, by 1877, Mackay had published a bizarre ‘etymological’ dictionary which claims Gaelic origins for all kinds of words in dozens of European languages.
These claims were every bit as silly as Cassidy’s. In other words, Charles Mackay was not a ‘Gaelic scholar’, any more than Cassidy himself.
As Cassidy states, Mackay derives the word feud from Irish and Gaelic fuath, which means hatred. Cassidy goes one better by adding the word ard (meaning ‘high’) to the fuath, so that his version of the origin of feud is fuath ard, ‘high hatred, great enmity’. I need hardly say that there is no evidence of anyone ever using this phrase in Irish or Scottish Gaelic.