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.
Geek is defined by Cassidy as a fairground term for a long-haired person, which is pushing it – the geek was frequently the ‘wild man’ in a fairground (think of Sideshow Bob on the Simpsons) but this seems to be a relatively late meaning. Cassidy needs to emphasise the hairiness of the geek because his Irish candidate is an adjective meaning hairy, ciabhach:
Ciabhach (pron. kíahaċ), adj., long-haired, hairy, bushy; dishevelled, unkempt; fig. a long-haired, bushy-looking person. Ciabhacht (pron. kíŏaċt) n., (someone or something) having long hair. (Dineen, 187; Ó Dónaill, 223)
In reality, ciabhach means long-haired. It cannot be used as a noun, and while ciabhacht is a noun, it is an abstract noun meaning hairiness. It cannot be used to mean someone who is hairy.
Back in the real word, geek is from a Germanic word meaning a fool, geck, which was actually used in the 18th century in the Austro-Hungarian empire for people in travelling freak shows