Cassidese Glossary – Goofer Dust

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 word that Cassidy took from the works of Carl Sandburg (whose name he spelled correctly in this section!) Apparently goofer dust is a powerful magical powder used in African American traditions of hoodoo (another word claimed for Irish by Cassidy without any evidence whatsoever). There is a Wikipedia entry for it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goofer_dust

According to the Wikipedia article, it is derived from a Kikongo word meaning ‘to die’. I am slightly sceptical of this claim, as there is a long tradition of white men who don’t know any African languages ‘doing a Cassidy’ and finding phonetic matches for Black American terms in dictionaries. However, the Wiki article seems to be clear that this is originally a term for cursing someone and that later it extended its meaning to cover love charms. If this is the case, then Cassidy’s claim that goofer comes from the Irish comhbhá meaning ’Fellow-feeling, sympathy; close friendship, alliance’ is even less likely to be correct.

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