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 etymological hoax, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that the English stink, as in they made a stink about the service, comes from the Irish word stainc, which means pique or huffiness.
I am not sure about the origin of the Irish word stainc. It may be simply a borrowing of English stink, though it seems to be of some antiquity and is found as early as the 17th century in Irish.
Whatever the origins of stainc and its relationship to stink, there seems little doubt that to raise a stink about something is a metaphorical use of the word for a bad smell which goes back to Old English stincan. After all, the meaning of stainc is fundamentally different to the use of stink in phrases like ‘to create a stink’. Stainc means pique or huffiness. It refers to the way someone might feel about the service in a restaurant, not their behaviour towards the staff because of that pique.