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 a word that entered American English from Irish in the early 19th century. It derives from the Irish slua (pre-reform spelling sluagh), meaning a crowd. This derivation has never been controversial and is given in all the dictionaries, including the Dictionary of American Slang, which is quoted as a source by Cassidy in his book. It is worth pointing out that the existence of words like this in the mainstream dictionaries invalidates one of Cassidy’s main arguments, that orthodox scholars tended to deny the Irish or Gaelic origins of words out of prejudice. Words like this show that the scholars have always been quite prepared to admit the Irish or Gaelic origin of words where the evidence exists.