Category Archives: Cassidese Glossary

Cassidese Glossary – Plunge

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.

Plunge is apparently a hobo slang term for a hobo’s stash of money (according to Cassidy) and he also says that to make a plunge means to make a pittance through begging. I can’t find any confirmation of the first meaning, though I did find the phrase ‘a gut plunge’ which apparently meant to beg meat off a butcher for your Mulligan stew. In other words, plunge may not have the meaning that Cassidy ascribed to it at all.

However, it happened, I think it’s a fair bet that plunge is an extension of the English word plunge, which comes from Old French plongier meaning to thrust down. According to Cassidy, this is not correct and plunge represents the ‘Irish’ bail ainnis. This is not a real Irish expression, of course, and it makes little sense. Bail means condition, state, or prosperity, but it isn’t used for someone’s personal fortune or stash. That would be a word like taisce. Even if this phrase did exist, it would be a phrase of three syllables, while plunge is a word of one syllable. Cassidy’s claim is basically just a piece of unintelligent, random guesswork and is certainly incorrect.

Cassidese Glossary – Pill

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.

According to Daniel Cassidy’s etymological hoax How The Irish Invented Slang, the expression pill for a ball (especially a golf ball), comes from the Irish word peil, which means a ball. Of course, a golf ball resembles a pill, and indeed the word pill comes from Latin pilula, which means a little ball. There is no clear etymology for the Irish word peil, but it probably comes ultimately from the Latin pellicius (a thing made of skins). Note that no native Irish words start with the letter p. All words beginning with a p are borrowings.

Cassidese Glossary – Piker

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.

According to Daniel Cassidy, this American slang word for a timid gambler, a stingy person or a vagrant comes from the Gaelic word picear. There are actually three possibilities here, as far as I can see.

Firstly, that piker is related to the insulting slang term for a traveller (Gypsy) pikey, which is probably from pike, a shortening of the term turnpike, which meant a toll road, perhaps reinforced in America by an association with Pike County, and that this word then entered Scottish Gaelic as picear.

Secondly, that picear is from some unknown source in Gaelic and that it then spread into English as piker, just as Cassidy claims.

Thirdly, that picear derives from the Scots and English dialect word picker, meaning a petty thief, and that it is unconnected with the English slang term piker.

As picear is pronounced like picker and not like piker, the third option seems by far the most likely.

Cassidese Glossary – Pigeon

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 term for an informer. Here we can see very clearly the infantile and unscholarly way that Daniel Cassidy’s mind worked. Where a number of terms are clearly closely related in English, any sensible person would work on the basis that they all derive from the same term and research accordingly (without dismissing other possibilities out of hand). As happened many times with Cassidy’s absurd book, he proceeded on the basis that stool pigeon, stoolie and pigeon all represent separate borrowings from different Irish words. In the case of pigeon, Cassidy says that it comes from béideán, a dialect variant of béadán. In Cassidy’s origin for stool pigeon, this is a noun meaning gossip. In this case, when it occurs on its own, it is a noun meaning calumniator. This is not a meaning I have ever heard for the word béadán, though according to Dinneen it can refer to a person who spreads gossip as well as the gossip they spread. This meaning is not even mentioned by Ó Dónaill:

https://www.teanglann.ie/en/fgb/béadán

In reality, stool pigeon, stoolie and pigeon all derive from the same English term for a decoy bird:

https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=stool+pigeon

 

Cassidese Glossary – Phoney

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.

Fawney is an old criminal slang word for a ring, especially a cheap, base-metal ring used in scams as a gold ring. There is no doubt that it derives from Irish fáinne. Cassidy was not the first to suggest this, or to suggest that fawney is the origin of phoney.

https://www.etymonline.com/word/fawney

Cassidese Glossary – Pharaon

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.

Cassidy may well be right about the fact that there is no evidence of cards ornamented with an image of a pharaoh in France or Britain but there is no doubt that pharaon is the French for pharaoh and that there was a game played in 17th and 18th century France called Pharaon:

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharaon_(jeu)

As for the claim that pharaon derives from the Irish fiar araon, meaning turn over together, this is nonsense. Fiaradh doesn’t mean to turn as in to turn a card over, of course, (that would be tiontaigh or iompaigh) and fiar araon is pretty much meaningless, and fiaradh is pronounced feeroo, but Cassidy wouldn’t have known that because he didn’t know any Irish.

Cassidese Glossary – Pet

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.

In his etymological hoax, How The Irish Invented Slang, the late Daniel Cassidy claimed that the English word pet comes from the Irish or Scottish Gaelic word peata, with the same meaning of a tame animal. What he does not say is that this is a claim that has been made many times before by authorities like the Oxford English Dictionary, as you can see from this link:

A pet topic