Cassidese Glossary – Slop

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.

Daniel Cassidy, in his work of false etymologies, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that the English terms slop and sloppy are of Irish origin. He claims that they are linked either to slab, (the origin of slob in sloblands) or to words like slapach or slapaire, meaning slovenly or a slovenly person. McKinnon’s Gaelic etymological dictionary makes it quite clear that slab comes from the Norse word slab, while slapaire comes from the Norse word slapr, meaning a slovenly person. In other words, they are two separate words with separate origins, so Cassidy’s claim is illogical.

However, the claim is also nonsense for another reason. Cassidy says that:

Anglo-American dictionaries derive the words slop and sloppy from Old English cūsloppe for cow dung. The word sloppy does not appear in English vernacular until the 19th century. (Barnhart, 1019.)

This is nonsense. No English or American English dictionary derives slop and sloppy from the word cūsloppe. The word slop is quite ancient in English and is found around the year 1400 with the meaning of mudhole. This in turn probably derives from an Old English word sloppe meaning dung but this element is not found on its own. It is only found in one compound word, the plant name cūsloppe which is the origin of modern English cowslip and is believed to mean cow dung, probably because the cowslip is found where cattle graze. (The Irish bainne bó bleachtáin means milk of a milking cow and also links the cowslip to cows.) Sloppy dates back to the 18th century but slop goes back a long way in English and has no connection with Irish or Scottish Gaelic.

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