Cassidese Glossary – Goo-Goo

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 bizarre claim made in Daniel Cassidy’s book How The Irish Invented Slang. Apparently, goo-goo is an American slang term for upper class ‘reformers’. This term derives from the phrase Good Government, and there was a string of Good Government clubs at the end of the 19th century promoting this ideology (

Daniel Cassidy, of course, begs to differ. No, this well-known and well-attested derivation is wrong. Really, it has its origins in the teeming Irish-speaking slums of New York and represents the Irish guth guth, a reduplication of Irish guth meaning voice or (rarely) blame. So according to Cassidy, this phrase means:

‘guth guth (pron. guh guh), complain, complain; reproach, reproach; blame blame; censure, censure; fig. blah, blah.’

This is not true, of course. Guth guth doesn’t mean anything in Irish, any more than ‘voice voice’ means anything in particular in English. As usual, Cassidy fails to provide any evidence for its existence, because no such evidence exists.

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