Category Archives: Drossary

A glossary entry about one of Cassidy’s crazy theories, debunking that particular word or phrase and explaining why it is nonsense.

Caunfort Ladran

The late Daniel Cassidy, in his absurd book of fake etymology, ‘How The Irish Invented Slang’, claimed that there were hundreds of Irish expressions hidden in American slang. We have already seen that in the vast majority of these cases, the Irish expressions cited by Cassidy do not exist and were invented by Cassidy himself.

We do find occasional traces of the Irish language in American slang. This phrase, caunfort ladran, is one of the most interesting examples. Cassidy failed to spot it, either because he was too lazy to read all the slang dictionaries, or because he read this and failed to spot that it was Irish. (Cassidy didn’t speak any Irish at all.)

The phrase caunfort ladran is given in a criminal slang dictionary of 1908 called ‘Criminal Slang’ by a certain Joseph M. Sullivan, a lawyer at the Boston Bar. On page 5 of this book, we find:

Caunfort Ladran Master thief (Irish); same as head of a mob.

The (Irish) is a reference to language rather than location. Caunfort Ladran represents the Irish ceannfort ladrann, meaning commandant of thieves.

Was this a genuine expression used among Irish-speaking criminals? There is no way of knowing. There are a few Irish and Hiberno-English expressions in Sullivan’s book. Thus we find things like Souper, a fellow who works the churches to advance himself, – an insincere convert, or Sthreel, a slouchy woman (from Irish sraoill). Shebeen and shoneen are also mentioned.

However, the usual modern Irish term for thief is gadaí, not ladrann (a borrowing from Latin, resembling Spanish ladrón). In other words, I wonder whether Sullivan simply got a translated term for a leader of thieves from some Irish scholar in his community and pretended that it was current in the criminal underworld.

One thing is sure. The existence of this phrase does nothing to strengthen Cassidy’s case. For one thing, Cassidy actually missed it. Secondly, this is a genuine Irish phrase. It means what it is supposed to mean and it is labelled as Irish in the source text. It bears no relation to the rubbish given as Irish in Cassidy’s book.

 

Mhaígh Daniel Cassidy, nach maireann, ina leabhar áiféiseach den tsanasaíocht bréige, ‘How The Irish Invented Slang’, go raibh na céadta focal de bhunús Ghaeilge na hÉireann le fáil i mbéarlagair Bhéarla Mheiriceá. Mar a chonaic muid roimhe seo, sa chuid is mó de na cásanna seo, ní raibh na frásaí ‘Gaeilge’ a luaigh Cassidy ann ar chor ar bith. Ní raibh iontu ach raiméis a chum an Casaideach féin.

Níl i leabhar Cassidy ach amaidí. Ach bíonn corr-rian den Ghaeilge le fáil i mbéarlagair na Stát Aontaithe. Tá an frása atá i gceist anseo, caunfort ladran, ar cheann de na samplaí is suimiúla. Níor thug Cassidy faoi deara é. B’fhéidir go raibh sé rófhalsa na foclóirí béarlagair uilig a léamh, nó b’fhéidir gur léigh sé é agus nár aithin sé gur Gaeilge a bhí ann. (Ní raibh Gaeilge ar bith ag Cassidy, ar ndóigh.)

Tugadh an frása caunfort ladran i bhfoclóir den bhéarlagair coiriúil a foilsíodh sa bhliain 1908, ‘Criminal Slang’ le fear darbh ainm Joseph M. Sullivan, dlíodóir ag Barra Bhostúin. Ar leathanach 5 den leabhar sin, tá an méid seo scríofa:

Caunfort Ladran Master thief (Irish); same as head of a mob.

Tá an (Irish) sin ag tagairt don teanga, ní don tír. Is ionann caunfort ladran agus ceannfort ladrann, nó ceannaire na ngadaithe.

An fíor go raibh ceannfort ladrann in úsáid i measc gadaithe Gaelacha? Níl a fhios againn. Tá roinnt focal a tháinig ón Ghaeilge nó ó Bhéarla na hÉireann i leabhar Sullivan. Tá leithéidí Souper, a fellow who works the churches to advance himself, – an insincere convert, nó Sthreel, a slouchy woman ann (ó sraoill na Gaeilge). Tá shebeen agus shoneen luaite ann fosta.

Agus sin ráite, is é gadaí an focal is coitianta ar thief an Bhéarla, ní ladrann (focal a fuair an Ghaeilge ón Laidin, agus atá gaolta le ladrón na Spáinnise). Lena rá ar dhóigh eile, b’fhéidir nach bhfuil ann ach gur iarr Sullivan ar scoláire Gaeilge i mBostún téarma Gaeilge a chur ar fáil ar ‘master thief’ agus nach raibh sé riamh in úsáid i measc na gcoirpeach féin.

Rud amháin atá fíor. Ní neartaíonn sé cás Cassidy go bhfuil a leithéid de fhrása ann. Ar an chéad dul síos, chaill Cassidy é, in ainneoin an diantaighde a rinne sé don leabhar, dar leis féin. Ar an dara dul síos, is fíorphíosa Gaeilge é seo. Tá sé ag teacht leis an bhrí a luaitear leis sa téacs, agus tá sé lipéadaithe mar Ghaeilge sa bhuntéacs. Níl baint ar bith aige leis an amaidí a tugadh mar Ghaeilge i leabhar Cassidy.

Advertisements

The Brooklyn Boys

On August 16th 2004, Daniel Cassidy posted a message on the Linguist List about his latest crackpot theory. He had come across the term The Brooklyn Boys in the plays of Eugene O’Neill and decided to invent an Irish origin for the phrase.

In reality, Brooklyn Boys is a slang term for the DTs or for a hangover. The expression has been on record since 1883. Nobody is sure about its origin but one source mentions that there were many breweries and distilleries in Brooklyn, which sounds reasonable.

Cassidy really excelled himself in his version of the origin of this phrase. According to him, Brooklyn Boys represents the ‘Irish’ phrase Bru/cht [Sic – should be brúcht] lionn baithis. According to Cassidy, this phrase means ‘Booze and bile bursting out the top of the head’ and is pronounced brook-lyn-boice.

In reality, this phrase makes no sense at all. Brúcht lionn baithis is just a list of three words with no grammar to define their relationship, which sort of means something like “Belch bodily humour top of head.” Even if you accepted that it meant ‘booze and bile bursting out the top of the head’, is this a convincing description of the DTs? The usual term for the DTs is rámhaille an óil (the raving of drink). The image of sweat and other bodily fluids erupting out of the top of someone’s head like a volcano is ludicrous, disturbing and completely unconvincing.  And of course, it would be pronounced brookht-lin-ba-hish (with the kh as in Scottish loch or Spanish j), not brook-lyn-boice. This is another clear example of Cassidy’s dishonesty. Every fact was manipulated in the direction of Cassidy’s conclusions.

Of course, a supporter of Cassidy would probably point out that this never made it to the book and that this implies some kind of quality control. In fact, the vast majority of the phrases in the book are every bit as mad and silly as phrases like athbhreith céad athbhreith (=abracadabra, according to Cassidy) or brúcht lionn baithis, that never made it to the book. Cassidy’s mind was a junkyard of half-formed nonsense, and the book simply represents whatever garbage happened to be between Cassidy’s ears in the year before publication. They are no more believable or reasonable than the other stupid claims that were lost along the way.

 

Ar an 16 Lúnasa 2004, chuir Daniel Cassidy teachtaireacht suas ar an Linguist List faoi theoiric nua a bhí cumtha aige. Tháinig sé ar an téarma The Brooklyn Boys i ndrámaí Eugene O’Neill agus shocraigh sé ar bhunús ‘Gaeilge’ a chumadh leis an fhriotal seo a mhíniú.

Is é fírinne an scéil gur téarma béarlagair é The Brooklyn Boys ar rámhaille an óil (delirium tremens) nó ar phóit uafásach. Taifeadadh an téarma sin den chéad uair sa bhliain 1883. Níl a fhios ag duine ar bith faoi shanasaíocht an fhrása, ach deir foinse amháin go raibh a lán grúdlann agus drioglann in Brooklyn, agus tá sin cineál réasúnta mar mhíniú.

Tá caimiléireacht Cassidy maidir leis an chor cainte seo níos measa fiú ná an ghnáthraiméis a chumadh sé. Dar leisean, is ionann Brooklyn Boys agus an friotal ‘Gaeilge’ Bru/cht [=Brúcht] lionn baithis. Dar le Cassidy, ciallaíonn an bolgam seo ‘Biotáille agus domlas ag brúchtadh amach as barr an chinn’ agus deirtear é mar brúc-lion-bóis (brook-lyn-boice).

Ní gá dom a rá le duine ar bith a bhfuil Gaeilge aici nó aige gur raiméis é seo. Níl ann ach trí fhocal gan gramadach lena gceangal le chéile. Fiú dá nglacfadh duine leis an íomhá áiféiseach de lionn ag brúchtadh amach as barr an chinn mar a bheadh bolcán ann, cad é an bhaint atá aige sin le rámhaille an óil? Agus ar ndóigh, ní mar brúc-lion-bóis a déarfaí é. Is eiseamláir shoiléir eile seo de mhí-ionracas Cassidy. Lúbadh agus camadh gach fíric ionas go mbeadh sí ag teacht le torthaí réamhcheaptha Cassidy.

Ar ndóigh, déarfadh lucht leanúna Cassidy nár foilsíodh an ceann seo sa leabhar, agus gur fianaise seo go raibh rialú caighdeáin de chineál aige ag Cassidy. Is é fírinne an scéil go bhfuil tromlach na bhfrásaí sa leabhar chomh craiceáilte agus bómánta le ‘athbhreith céad athbhreith’ (=abracadabra, de réir Cassidy) nó ‘brúcht lionn baithis’, cinn nár bhain an leabhar amach riamh. Is é a bhí in intinn Cassidy ná clós mangarae lán le bruscar leathfhoirmithe, agus is é atá sa leabhar ná cibé truflais a bhí idir cluasa Cassidy sa bhliain sular foilsíodh an leabhar. Níl siad pioc níos inchreidte ná níos réasúnta ná na bómántachtaí eile a mhaígh Cassidy ar an idirlíon ach nár chuir sé isteach sa leabhar agus a cailleadh ar an bhealach.

Some Tweets/Roinnt Giolcacha

I have noticed a few interesting things on Twitter recently. One was a conversation between two people who both realised what an idiot Cassidy was very quickly.

Seán Óg Mac Cionnaith wrote the following on the 5th of July 2018.

Some hack wrote a whole book full of this shite – How The Irish Invented Slang. Infuriating paddywhackery.

On the same day, Mike Duffy in New York replied with this:

I was still ink-slinging for a living when that hack’s book came out and did a wee phone interview for a piece which I then dropped very, very quickly when it became clear he was full of shit.

It’s great to see people with bullshit sensors that actually work. Less acceptable is a comment by sean_flah in reply to the Rubberbandits, who, for reasons known only to themselves, are continuing to spread this trash about the Irish origin of slang.

The stuff about ‘dig / tuig’, the notion we have now that they are linked comes from Daniel Cassidy, the NY academic who wrote ‘How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads’ around 10-15 years ago (not long before he died).

He then went on to say:

Long story short, consensus among quite a few is that he was a fella with a hammer that saw nails absolutely everywhere. Drawing links between things that I suppose couldn’t be disproved, but likewise couldn’t be proven either. An interesting subject to contemplate all the same.

There are several points that need to be made here. Cassidy had nothing to do with the idea that dig and twig come from tuig. The association of tuig with twig goes back to Walter Skeat, who died in 1912. Both twig and dig and their origin from tuig were discussed in a paper by Eric P. Hamp, first published in 1981. Also, Daniel Cassidy was not an academic. He had no degrees or qualifications. You need at least one degree or one major life achievement to be an academic. Cassidy had nothing to offer anyone.

The comment about hammers and nails is quite apt but is then completely ruined by the silly comment about things that can’t be disproved or proven. I mean, why can’t they? OK, in the case of twig and tuig or dig and an dtuigeann, it’s quite hard to make that call. However, most of the one-word derivations given by Cassidy, whether original to him or plagiarised, are demonstrably nonsense. In the case of longshoreman, there is plenty of evidence that it is from ‘men along the shore’ and not from loingseoir. There are words like gump, which Cassidy says comes from Irish colm, meaning a dove. This is plainly rubbish because colm doesn’t sound anything like gump. And then there are words like beathais, Cassidy’s candidate for booze, which doesn’t exist at all.

But of course, most of Cassidy’s derivations are not individual words. They are phrases like sách úr and béal ónna and éamh call, phrases that don’t exist in Irish. Quite simply, if the only evidence that a phrase like uath dubh exists in Irish is the word of Daniel Cassidy, a proven liar who didn’t know any Irish, there isn’t any evidence and nobody should believe these claims.

 

Thug mé roinnt rudaí faoi deara ar Twitter ar na mallaibh. Ceann amháin acu, comhrá a bhí ann idir beirt fhear a thuig láithreach nach raibh sa Chaisideach ach amadán.

Scríobh Seán Óg Mac Cionnaith an méid seo ar an 5ú Iúil 2018.

Some hack wrote a whole book full of this shite – How The Irish Invented Slang. Infuriating paddywhackery.

Ar an lá chéanna, fuair sé freagra ó Mike Duffy i Nua-Eabhrac:

I was still ink-slinging for a living when that hack’s book came out and did a wee phone interview for a piece which I then dropped very, very quickly when it became clear he was full of shit.

Is breá an rud é daoine a aimsiú atá ábalta cacamas a aithint gan stró. Is lú an t-áthas a chuir na tráchtanna seo orm, freagraí a scríobh sean_flah ar na Rubberbandits. De réir cosúlachta, (agus níl a fhios agam cad chuige!) tá na Robálaithe Rubair ag scaipeadh na raiméise seo faoi bhunús Gaeilge an bhéarlagair go fóill.

The stuff about ‘dig / tuig’, the notion we have now that they are linked comes from Daniel Cassidy, the NY academic who wrote ‘How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads’ around 10-15 years ago (not long before he died).

Lean sé leis mar seo:

Long story short, consensus among quite a few is that he was a fella with a hammer that saw nails absolutely everywhere. Drawing links between things that I suppose couldn’t be disproved, but likewise couldn’t be proven either. An interesting subject to contemplate all the same.

Tá roinnt rudaí le soiléiriú anseo. Ar an chéad dul síos, ní raibh baint ar bith ag an Chaisideach leis an nóisean gurb ionann dig agus twig i mBéarla agus tuig sa Ghaeilge. An nasc idir tuig agus twig, is féidir é a rianú siar a fhad le Walter Skeat, a fuair bás sa bhliain 1912. Pléadh twig agus dig agus an bhaint atá acu le tuig i bpáipéar acadúil le Eric P. Hamp, a foilsíodh den chéad uair sa bhliain 1981. Ní hamháin sin, ach ní féidir ‘academic’ a thabhairt ar Daniel Cassidy. Ní raibh céimeanna ná cáilíochtaí aige. Tá ar a laghad céim amháin nó mór-éacht amháin i saol an léinn de dhíth ar dhuine le stádas léachtóra a bhaint amach. Ní raibh rud ar bith le tairiscint ag Cassidy do dhuine ar bith.

Tá an méid atá le rá aige faoi chasúr agus tairní go hiomlán ceart ach ansin, scriosann sé é leis an amaidí faoi rudaí nach féidir iad a chruthú ná a dhíchruthú. Cad chuige nach féidir iad a chruthú ná a dhíchruthú? Maith go leor, i gcás twig agus tuig nó dig agus an dtuigeann, b’fhéidir nach féidir é a chinntiú bealach amháin ná bealach eile. Agus sin ráite, an chuid is mó de na sanasaíochtaí aonfhocail a thug an Caisideach, idir chinn a chum sé féin nó chinn a ghoid sé, is deargraiméis iad. I gcás longshoreman, tá neart fianaise ann gur tháinig sin ó ‘men along the shore’ agus ní ó loingseoir. Tá focail ann ar nós gump. Dúirt Cassidy gurb ionann gump agus colm na Gaeilge, ainneoin nach bhfuil an dá fhocal cosúil lena chéile ar chor ar bith. Agus tá focail ann ar nós beathuis, an focal a bhfuair an Béarla an focal booze uaidh, dar le Cassidy. Ach ar ndóigh, níl a leithéid d’fhocal ann agus beathais. Chum Cassidy é.

Ach ar ndóigh, ní focail aonair iad an chuid is mó de na sanasaíochtaí a bhí ag Cassidy. Is frásaí iad ar nós sách úr agus béal ónna agus éamh call, frásaí nach bhfuil ann sa Ghaeilge. Lena mhíniú go simplí, mura bhfuil fianaise ar bith ann go bhfuil frása mar uath dubh le fáil sa Ghaeilge ach gur mhaígh bréagadóir cruthanta nach raibh Gaeilge ar bith aige darbh ainm Daniel Cassidy sin, ní fianaise sin agus níor chóir do dhuine ar bith muinín a chur i raiméis mar sin.

Níos mó ar ‘dude’ na Gaeilge

Tá teoiricí amaideacha Cassidy faoin fhocal ‘dude’ pléite agam roimhe seo. Mura gcuireann sé fonn ort caitheamh amach, is féidir leat éisteacht le Cassidy ag cur thairis faoin ábhar seo leis an mheascán den phoimpéis agus den bhómántacht ba dhual dó le lucht féachana geanúil de lútálaithe agus de bhocamadáin ag an NY Tenement Museum anseo: http://tenement-museum.blogspot.com/2008/10/danny-cassidy.html

Má tá tú ar dhóigh ar bith cósúil liomsa, cuirfidh blas srónach féinsásta agus easpa umhlachta Cassidy isteach ort chomh mór sin gurbh fhearr leat a chuid rámhaillí maidir leis an cheist seo a léamh in áit éisteacht leis. Seo an dóigh ar foilsíodh an méid a mhaígh Cassidy faoi bhunús an fhocail ‘dude’ ar CounterPunch: 

Dude, n.,a dapper dandy; a ‘swell,’ an affected, fastidious fop; a city slicker at a dude ranch. “Origin unknown.” (Barnhart Dictionary of English Etymology, 305.)

Dúd, (pron. dood), dúd(a), al. dúid, n., a foolish-looking fellow; a dolt, a numbskull; a clown; an idiot; a rubbernecker; a long-necked eavesdropper. (Dineen, 377, 378; Ó Dónaill, 459, 460.)

Dúdach, adj., rubber-necked; foolish-looking, queer. Dúdaire, n., a clown, an idiot (Kerry); a long-necked person; a dolt; an eavesdropper. Dúdálaí, n., a stupid person; an idiot; a self-conscious person.  (Dineen, 377, 378; Ó Dónaill, 459, 460, Foclóir Póca, 349, 350)

Dúd (pron. dood, a dolt) was a moniker Irish Americans slapped on slumming, dapper, wealthy, young “swells,” out on a “spree” (spraoi, fun, sport, frolic, a drinking bout) in the concert saloons, dance halls, and theaters of old New York.

Mar sin de, duine ar bith atá ag léamh chur síos Cassidy ar an scéal, shílfeadh sé go bhfuil dornán focal ann sa Ghaeilge ar nós diúid, dúid, dúdaire, dúdálaí, dúidín agus dúdóg, focail a mbaintear úsaid astu, den chuid is mó, le cur síos ar dhaoine. Sin é leagan Cassidy. Amharcaimis ar an fhírinne in áit leagan Cassidy.

De réir cosulachta, tá dhá fhocal ar leith i gceist anseo. Deir FGB Uí Dhónaill:  Diúid 1. Simple, uncomplicated. 2. Straightforward, sincere. 3. Simple-minded, silly.  Ní léir go bhfuil baint ar bith aige leis an fhocal dúid, an focal is bunús leis na focail eile a thug mé thuas. Is ainmfhocal dúid. Bíonn sé le fáil in amanna i seantéacsanna san fhoirm dúda. Seo an méid atá le rá ag Ó Dónaill: 

dúid, f. (gs. ~e, pl. ~eanna).1. Stump. Rud a ghearradh (amach, aníos) ón ~, ó bhun na ~e, to cut sth. right down to the stump. Chuir an tarbh an adharc go bun na ~e, go filleadh ~e, ann, the bull stuck his horn right into him. 2. (a) Stumpy object, protuberant part; (short) horn, (cropped) ear, tail. (b) Short-stemmed (clay) pipe. 3. (Craned) neck, throat. ~ a chur ort féin, to crane ones neck; to turn ones head shyly away; to eavesdrop; to mope around. Greim ~e a fháil ar dhuine, to grasp s.o. by the neck, to fasten on s.o. Rud a chur ar do dhúid, to swallow hard at sth., to gulp sth. down ones throat. 4. (a) Stumpy person. (b) Mopish, shy person; numbskull. (Var:~eán m)

Ar an drochuair, fágadh sanasaíocht na Gaeilge in áit na leithphingine thar na blianta. Níl oiread agus bunfhoclóir sanasaíochta againn i nGaeilge nó fiú i mBéarla faoi bhunús na bhfocal Gaeilge. Ach, nuair a chuardaigh mé an focal dúid i dtéacsanna Gaeilge, tháinig mé ar a lán samplaí ina raibh duid ann mar leagan mílitrithe den fhocal duit no den fhocal dóid (dorn nó lámh).  

Ní bhaineann na téarmaí seo go príomha le daoine. Bíonn téarmaí ar nós dúid agus dúidín ag tagairt do stumpaí nó butaí, rudaí atá cosúil le buta, le feadán, le muineál, le cluas, le trumpaí beaga nó le dúidíní tobac. Baintear úsáid as i bhfrásaí ar nós gearrtha go dúid, agus na focail thánaisteacha, leithéidí dúdaire agus dúdálaí (a chiallaíonn cúléisteoir nó scrogaire), fuair siad an chiall sin cionn is go mbíonn duine fiosrach ag síneadh na dúide le héisteacht nó le hamharc níos fearr ar rudaí nach mbaineann leo. 

Cad é faoin fhocal dúid mar mhasla, mar théarma a úsáidtear le cur síos a dhéanamh ar dhaoine? An bhfuil fianaise ar bith ann? Bhal, Ó Dónaill, ina Fhoclóir Gaeilge-Béarla, luann sé an chiall duine íseal nó blocán, ach níl sa tsainmhíniú sin ach an ceathrú ceann, agus an ceann deireanach. Agus luann Dinneen agus Ó Dónaill araon an focal galldúda leis an chiall búr, fuirseoir. (Is dócha gur Gall, duine eachtrannach, atá i gceist leis an chéad chuid.) 

Seachas an dá fhoinse seo, ní bhfuair mé aon tsampla eile de na focail dúid ná dúda in úsáid mar théarma maslach le tagairt a dhéanamh do dhaoine i dtéacsanna Gaeilge. Lena rá ar dhóigh eile, is fíorannamh a úsáidtear an téarma seo le cur síos a dhéanamh ar dhaoine agus mar gheall air sin, ní mór dúinn an cheist a chur, an é seo an focal (nó an focal de na focail é seo) a mbaineadh lucht na Gaeilge úsáid as/astu nuair a chonaic siad gaige ardaicmeach ag siúl go mórluachach trí cheantar na mbocht? I ndiaidh an tsaoil, tá sé le tuiscint ó shainmhíniú Uí Dhónaill gur duine íseal, ciotach, cúlanta, caochóg ar chóisir, duine cotúil leamh atá i gceist le dúid, an chorruair a úsáidtear an téarma sin le daoine. An phríomhchiall atá le dude an Bhéarla, gur duine a dhéanann seó saolta de féin atá ann, duine a nochtann a chuid saibhris agus a thuiscint ar stíl agus ar fhaisean don tsaol mhór.

Ní hamháin sin, ach is léir go bhfuil an gnáthbhunús a luann lucht na sanasaiochta (go dtig sé ón amhrán Yankee Doodle, a bhfuil baint láidir aige le gaigí agus le bónna aonaigh) i bhfad níos láidre ná cás Cassidy. Níl i leagan Cassidy ach caimiléireacht aineolach mhíchumtha ó bhréagadóir bromúdarásach naircisíoch nach raibh scileanna ná cáilíochtaí ar bith aige.

More on the Irish dude

I have dealt before with Cassidy’s ridiculous claims about the word ‘dude’. If you have the stomach for it, you can listen to Cassidy spouting rubbish about this subject with his usual mixture of pomposity and incompetence to an adoring audience of sycophants and dimwits at the NY Tenement Museum: http://tenement-museum.blogspot.com/2008/10/danny-cassidy.html

If, like me, you find Cassidy’s self-satisfied nasal twang and utter lack of humility a real turn-off, perhaps you will prefer to read his nonsense in relation to this question instead of listening to it. Here is the way that Cassidy’s claims about the Irish origins of ‘dude’ appeared on CounterPunch:

Dude, n.,a dapper dandy; a ‘swell,’ an affected, fastidious fop; a city slicker at a dude ranch. “Origin unknown.” (Barnhart Dictionary of English Etymology, 305.)
Dúd, (pron. dood), dúd(a), al. dúid, n., a foolish-looking fellow; a dolt, a numbskull; a clown; an idiot; a rubbernecker; a long-necked eavesdropper. (Dineen, 377, 378; Ó Dónaill, 459, 460.)
Dúdach, adj., rubber-necked; foolish-looking, queer. Dúdaire, n., a clown, an idiot (Kerry); a long-necked person; a dolt; an eavesdropper. Dúdálaí, n., a stupid person; an idiot; a self-conscious person. (Dineen, 377, 378; Ó Dónaill, 459, 460, Foclóir Póca, 349, 350)
Dúd (pron. dood, a dolt) was a moniker Irish Americans slapped on slumming, dapper, wealthy, young “swells,” out on a “spree” (spraoi, fun, sport, frolic, a drinking bout) in the concert saloons, dance halls, and theaters of old New York.

So, anyone reading Cassidy’s account would think that there is a complex of Irish terms like diúid, dúid, dúdaire, dúdálaí, dúidín and dúdóg, all of which apparently refer to people. That’s Cassidy’s version. Let’s have a look at the truth instead of Cassidy’s version.

There seem to be at least two separate words here. Diúid is an obscure adjective meaning 1. Simple, uncomplicated. 2. Straightforward, sincere. 3. Simple-minded, silly. (According to Ó Dónaill’s dictionary) It doesn’t seem to have any relationship to the word dúid, which seems to be the origin of all the other words given above. Dúid is a noun. It sometimes occurs in older texts as dúda. Here are its meanings (again from Ó Dónaill):

dúid, f. (gs. ~e, pl. ~eanna).1. Stump. Rud a ghearradh (amach, aníos) ón ~, ó bhun na ~e, to cut sth. right down to the stump. Chuir an tarbh an adharc go bun na ~e, go filleadh ~e, ann, the bull stuck his horn right into him. 2. (a) Stumpy object, protuberant part; (short) horn, (cropped) ear, tail. (b) Short-stemmed (clay) pipe. 3. (Craned) neck, throat. ~ a chur ort féin, to crane one’s neck; to turn one’s head shyly away; to eavesdrop; to mope around. Greim ~e a fháil ar dhuine, to grasp s.o. by the neck, to fasten on s.o. Rud a chur ar do dhúid, to swallow hard at sth., to gulp sth. down one’s throat. 4. (a) Stumpy person. (b) Mopish, shy person; numbskull. (Var:~eán m)

Unfortunately, the field of Irish-language etymology has been neglected down the years. We don’t even have a basic etymological dictionary in Irish for common words. When I have searched for it in Irish texts and also on Google, I have come across many instances where duid is a misspelling of duit (for or to you), or of dóid (a fist or hand).

These terms are not primarily about people. Terms like dúid and dúidín seem to refer to stumps, stump-like objects, tubes, the neck, the ear, small trumpets or smoking pipes. It is used in phrases like gearrtha go dúid, (cut down to the stump) and the secondary words like dúdaire and dúdálaí (which mean things like rubbernecker or eavesdropper) acquired these meanings from the notion of someone craning their neck to hear or see things that are none of their business.

What about dúid being used as an insulting term for a person? Is there any evidence of this? Well, Ó Dónaill in his Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla gives it as having the meaning stumpy person or shy person or numbskull, though this is the fourth and final meaning given. And both Dinneen and Ó Dónaill give the word galldúda with the definition of an ignorant, clownish person. (The first bit is presumably gall, meaning foreign, non-Gaelic.)

Apart from these two sources, I have not come across any instance of dúid or dúda being used as a dismissive term for people in Irish texts. In other words, its use in this way is very rare, and because of this, we have to ask ourselves if this is the, or even a word, that Irish-speaking people would have used when they saw some dandy strutting through their area. After all, the implication of Ó Dónaill’s definition is that a dúid is someone who is stumpy, shy, awkward, who doesn’t do much. The primary meaning of dude in English is an exhibitionist, someone who flaunts their wealth and their style.

Add to that the appropriateness of the usual etymologist’s derivation from Yankee Doodle and its clear association with dandyism, and Cassidy’s claim starts to look like what it is – a load of ignorant, distorted flim-flam from a loud-mouthed, narcissistic con-man with no skills and no qualifications.

Níos Mó Ar An Chaidhp Bháis

Phostáil mé roimhe seo faoi bhunús Gaeilge (mar dhea) an fhrása “to put the kybosh on something.” I bpostáil darbh ainm Putting The Kybosh on Cassidy (Bealtaine 2016), luaigh mé gur minic roimhe seo a maíodh gur Gaeilge é kybosh (i bhfad sular foilsíodh leabhar bómánta Cassidy). Deirtear gur leagan truaillithe de na frásaí caip bháis nó caidhp bháis atá ann. An gnáthmhíniú air sin ná gur tagairt atá ann don chaipín dubh a chuireann breitheamh ar a cheann agus é ag daoradh duine chun báis.

Is féidir plé spéisiúil ar an téarma seo le hAnatoly Liberman a léamh ag blag an OUP anseo:

https://blog.oup.com/2013/08/three-recent-theories-of-kibosh-word-origin-etymology/

Sa phlé a rinne mé ar an bhunús Gaeilge a mhaítear don fhocal kybosh, luaigh mé nár tháinig mé ar thagairt ar bith don bhunús Gaeilge seo roimh cheann a foilsíodh ar an Cornell Daily Sun i mí na Nollag, 1936. San alt sin, tá cur síos ar léacht a thug fear darbh ainm Conboy faoi bhunús Gaeilge roinnt focal i mBéarla.

“Kibosh,” Conboy said today, “comes from ‘caip,’ which means cap, and bais,’ which means death. “It originated in Ireland about the time of Judge Norbury, who was called the ‘hanging judge.’

An lá faoi dheireadh, bhí mé ag déanamh roinnt taighde nach mbaineann leis an ábhar seo ar na Irish News Archives (Cartlanna Nuachtán na hÉireann), cartlann bhreá inchuardaithe de shean-nuachtáin Éireannacha. Bhí mé ar shéala an ríomhaire a dhruidim agus dul a luí, nuair a shocraigh mé kibosh/kybosh a chuardach lena fháil amach cad é a bhí ann.

Tá an plé thíos bunaithe ar thorthai an chuardaigh sin.

Sa Kerry Champion ar an 6ú lá de Mheán Fómhair, 1930, foilsíodh litir ó dhuine a d’úsáid an leasainm Oisín i ndiaidh na Féinne. Bhí an duine seo ag labhairt ar an Choláiste Gaeilge ar an Daingean i gCiarraí:

I asked him all about the Colaisde. “The Colaisde is it?” said he. “The koybosh (caip bhais) is put on it altogether for the past few years, and this year beat them all.”

I dtús báire, shíl mé gur léirigh seo go soiléir gur cor cainte Gaeilge atá i gceist le koybosh agus gur fíorphíosa fianaise é seo. Agus sin ráite, nuair a léigh mé an chuid eile de na haltanna, ní raibh mé chomh cinnte sin.

Ar an 21ú Aibreán, 1933, ar Scéala Éireann (The Irish Press) deir Seosamh S Ua Ceallaigh ó Richmond i Surrey gur tagairt atá ann don chaipín dhubh a chuireann breitheamh ar a cheann agus gur caip báis atá ann sa Ghaeilge. Ach, ceithre lá ina dhiaidh sin (25ú Aibreán 1934), scríobh fear darbh ainm Rice ó Liatroim san Irish Press gurb ionann é agus ‘an chuid sin den chochall a tharraingítear síos thar aghaidh an duine mhairbh go díreach roimh an adhlacadh’. Maíonn ‘Ballyduag’ gur caipín dubh an bhreithimh atá i gceist san Irish Independent ar an 10ú Aibreán 1943, ach faoina litir tá litir eile le John Grogan ó Bhaile Átha Cliath, a shonraíonn go bhfuil an frása an chaip báis ag tagairt don chaipín pice a bhí mar chéasadh/pionós ag na Sasanaigh in Éirinn san 18ú haois.

Ach ní hé sin a dheireadh. Scríobh duine dar leasainm “Periscope” san Irish Examiner ar an 18ú Eanáir, 1927 gur tháinig “putting the kybosh on it”  ón fhocal Gaeilge “cabais”. Dar leisean, ciallaíonn cabais bheith ag labhairt raiméise faoi ábhar. Ar ndóigh, níl mórán measa agam ar an tuairim seo. Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil a leithéid d’fhocal ann agus cabais. Tá focail ann atá cosúil leis, ar nós cabaireacht, ach níl rud ar bith ann atá cóngarach go leor, dar liom féin.

Deir litir ón Chanónach Maguire, S.P., san Irish Independent ar an 26ú Eanáir 1943 nach bhfuil baint ar bith idir an fhocal kybosh agus bosh (raiméis) ach gur tháinig sé ó caoi bais, nó “bealach an bháis”. De réir cosúlachta, níl duine ar bith eile ar aon intinn leis agus níl an frása seo le fáil i bhfoinse ná i dtéacs ar bith eile.

Agus sin ráite, agus mé ag amharc ar na tagairtí éagsúla, fuair mé gur cumadh na cinn is luaithe, agus is spéisiúla, sa bhliain 1909. In alt darbh ainm An American Professor on England, a foilsíodh ar an 29ú Samhain, 1909, bhí an méid seo le rá ag scríbhneoir anaithnid ar fhoireann an Freeman’s Journal:

Many expressions familiar in American-English are clearly translations or adaptations from the Gaelic: not a little slang was good idiomatic Gaelic, and such an extraordinary word as kybosh – “to put the kybosh on a man or a scheme” – takes a very curious interest when, as Mr J.H. Lloyd tells in one of his invaluable vocabularies to Irish poems or stories – it is traced to the extinct phrase “the cap of death” – i.e. the black cap of the hanging judge.

Ba shaineolaí ar an Ghaeilge é J.H. Lloyd, nó Seosamh Laoide. Ach thug Lloyd freagra ar an alt seo ar an 2ú de mhí Nollag sa Freeman’s Journal agus ba léir nach raibh sé sásta. Rinne sé gearán gur cuireadh a chuid tuairimí as a riocht:

Dear Sir – In your issue of 29th November, one of your leader writers, towards the end of the article “An American Professor on England”, quotes me in connection with the word “kybosh”, to put the kybosh on a man or a scheme. So far, he is correct. When, however, he adds the explanation “the cap of death,” apparently attributing this to me, he is very much astray.

In the vocabulary to Mac Mic Iasgaire Bhuidhe Luimnigh, published by the Gaelic League, I set down that caidhp bathais, to my surmise an expression of the lost Leinster dialect of Irish, was the probable etymon of “kybosh”.

Deir sé ina dhiaidh sin gur caipín nó fial bharr an chinn an chiall a bheadh ar caidhp bathais. Deir sé go bhfuil guta gairid sa dara siolla de kybosh agus go gciallaíonn sin nach dtiocfadh leis teacht ón fhrása caidhp báis. Deir sé go neamhbhalbh nár tháinig sé riamh ar shampla den fhrása in úsáid sa Ghaeilge (“though I have failed to find the word in use in an Irish dress”). Agus deir sé go bhfuil sé lánchinnte go bhfuil kybosh eile ann, frása a tháinig ón Ghiúdais nó ón Eabhrais. Deir sé gur 18 pingin nó rud éigin gan luach an chiall a bhí leis sin. De réir Laoide, mar sin, tá dhá bhunús ar leith leis an fhocal kybosh, ach deir sé fosta go bhfuil an leagan focal sin “to put the kybosh on something” iontach tipiciúil de chomhréir na Gaeilge agus gur léiriú láidir sin gurbh ón Ghaeilge a tháinig sé. (Tá cor cainte den chineál chéanna ó Chorcaigh pléite agam ar an bhlag seo, mar atá, an frása “to put the cawheke on something”.)

Cad é a chiallaíonn seo uilig? Bheinn níos sásta anois glacadh leis an fhéidearthacht gur frása de bhunús Gaeilge atá ann, thagann duine éigin ar fhianaise. Ach ní leor a rá go bhfuil dul na Gaeilge ar an fhrása “to put the kybosh on it”. Nach bhfuil neart frásaí den chineál seo nach bhfuil baint acu leis an Ghaeilge, leithéidí “to put the damper on it?” Agus cé go bhfaightear leithéidí kybosh, coybosh agus fiú caidhp bháis go minic i nuachtáin Ghaeilge ó fhichidí an 20ú haois, níl rian ar bith de caidhp bháis, caip bháis, caidhp bhathais nó caip bhathais le fáil áit ar bith roimh na tagairtí in 1909. Sin 75 bliain i ndiaidh don fhocal kybosh bheith curtha i gcló den chéad uair i Sasana. Agus ní mór dúinn a chuimhneamh gur glacadh le cuid mhór focal ar nós spraoi agus craic sa Ghaeilge, agus measann a cuid cainteoirí gur dlúthchuid sheanbhunaithe den teanga iad, ainneoin nach bhfuil sin fíor.

Chomh maith leis sin, is léir nach bhfuil sa bhaint idir an focal kybosh agus caidhpeanna báis (cibé míniú atá agat ar an fhrása sin) ach raiméis. De réir cosúlachta, tá sé le cur síos do mhíléamh nó cuimhne iomrallach ar bharúil Leoide sa ghluais i leabhar leathdhearmadta a foilsíodh in 1909. Más amhlaidh atá, is eiseamláir luath é den dóigh a scaiptear méimeanna bréige go víreasach cionn is go bhfuil cruth na fírinne ar na fíricí bréige iontu agus gur furasta cuimhneamh orthu mar gheall air sin.

More on the Irish origins of kybosh

I have posted before about the supposed Irish origins of the phrase ‘to put the kybosh on something’. In a post called Putting The Kybosh On Cassidy (May 2016) I pointed out that kybosh has often been claimed (long before Cassidy’s idiotic book was published) to be of Irish origin, a corruption of caip bháis or caidhp bháis, meaning death cap. The usual explanation for this is that it refers to the black cap donned by a judge when passing the death sentence.

You can find an interesting discussion of the term kybosh by Anatoly Liberman on the OUP blog:

https://blog.oup.com/2013/08/three-recent-theories-of-kibosh-word-origin-etymology/

In my discussion of the supposed Irish origin of kybosh, I mentioned that the earliest discussion of this I had found came from the Cornell Daily Sun in December 1936, where there is an account of a lecture by a man called Conboy about the Irish origin of English words.

“Kibosh,” Conboy said today, “comes from ‘caip,’ which means cap, and bais [sic],’ which means death. “It originated in Ireland about the time of Judge Norbury, who was called the ‘hanging judge.’

The other day, I was doing some unrelated research on the Irish News Archives, an excellent searchable archive of old Irish newspapers. Just before closing the computer and going to bed, I decided to look up kibosh/kybosh and see what I turned up.

The discussion below is based on the results of that search.

In the Kerry Champion of September 6th 1930, we find a letter from a person calling himself Oisín i ndiaidh na Féinne (Oisín after the Fianna) talking about the Irish College at Dingle in Kerry:

I asked him all about the Colaisde. “The Colaisde is it?” said he. “The koybosh (caip bhais) is put on it altogether for the past few years, and this year beat them all.”

At first, when I saw this, it seemed to me a strong indication that koybosh is really a native Irish expression. However, having read the rest of the articles, I am less sure.

On the 21st of April, 1933, in the Irish Press, Seosamh S. Ua Ceallaigh of Richmond in Surrey says that it refers to the black cap the judge puts on and that it comes from caip báis. However, a man called Rice in Leitrim in the Irish Press four days later (25th April 1934) says that it means ‘that portion of the cowl which is pulled down over the face of the dead immediately before interment’.  The claim about the judge’s cap is also made by ‘Ballyduag’ in the Irish Independent of Feb 10th 1943, but below his letter is a letter from John Grogan of Dublin, who states that the caip bais [sic] refers to the pitch cap used by the British in the late 18th century as a torture/punishment. There is no evidence or reference to any published or manuscript source in any of these letters.

However, someone called “Periscope”, writing in the Irish Examiner of January 18th, 1927, says that “putting the kybosh on it” derived from “cabais”, to prate or speak nonsensically or stupidly about a subject. When anyone talks that way he puts the “kybosh” on any further argument. This seems a weak and irrelevant claim, as there is no such word as cabais. There are vaguely similar words like cabaireacht, but nothing I know of closely resembling cabais.

A letter from Canon Maguire, P.P. in the Irish Independent of January 26th 1943, says that the word kybosh has no connection with bosh (rubbish) but that it instead comes from caoi bais [sic], meaning “way of death”. He seems to be alone in this opinion and the phrase is not found in any other source or text.

However, trawling through the different references, I found the earliest were in 1909. They were also by far the most interesting. In an article called An American Professor on England published on November 29th 1909, an anonymous staff author of the Freeman’s Journal wrote:

Many expressions familiar in American-English are clearly translations or adaptations from the Gaelic: not a little slang was good idiomatic Gaelic, and such an extraordinary word as kybosh – “to put the kybosh on a man or a scheme” – takes a very curious interest when, as Mr J.H. Lloyd tells in one of his invaluable vocabularies to Irish poems or stories – it is traced to the extinct phrase “the cap of death” – i.e. the black cap of the hanging judge.

J.H. Lloyd, or Seosamh Laoide, was an Irish language expert. However, Lloyd himself then replied to this on December the 2nd in the Freeman’s Journal, complaining that his views had been misrepresented:

Dear Sir – In your issue of 29th November, one of your leader writers, towards the end of the article “An American Professor on England”, quotes me in connection with the word “kybosh”, to put the kybosh on a man or a scheme. So far, he is correct. When, however, he adds the explanation “the cap of death,” apparently attributing this to me, he is very much astray. 

In the vocabulary to Mac Mic Iasgaire Bhuidhe Luimnigh, published by the Gaelic League, I set down that caidhp bathais, to my surmise an expression of the lost Leinster dialect of Irish, was the probable etymon of “kybosh”.

He goes on to say that caidhp bathais would mean the cap or coif of the crown of the head. He says that kybosh could not come from caidhp báis because the o of kybosh is a short vowel. He states clearly that he has never actually found an example of this phrase in use (“though I have failed to find the word in use in an Irish dress”). He goes on to say that he is quite adamant that there is also a Yiddish/Hebrew expression, with the meaning of 18 pence or something worthless. So according to Lloyd, kybosh has two distinct origins, but he states that the construction “to put the kybosh on something” is typical of Irish syntax and this is a strong indicator of Irish origin. (I have discussed a similar expression from Cork on this blog, namely the phrase “to put the cawheke on something”.)

Where does all this leave us? I am more inclined now to accept the possibility of an Irish origin for this phrase, if the evidence comes to light. However, the mere fact of kybosh using an Irish-like construction is not enough. After all, aren’t there plenty of non-Irish expressions like this? (For example, that put the damper on it). And while there are plentiful uses of kybosh, coybosh and even caidhp bháis in the Irish papers from the second decade of the 20th century until the last few years, there are absolutely no traces of caidhp bháis, caip bháis, caidhp bhathais or caip bhathais (or any of the versions without the séimhiú which modern Irish grammar would require) anywhere before the 1909 references. This is 75 years after kybosh’s first appearance in England. And we need to note that many expressions like spraoi and craic have made their homes in the Irish language and been accepted as intrinsic and ancient parts of that language by its speakers, even though they aren’t.

Also, the association of kybosh with caps of death (whatever explanation you have for that phrase), seems to be completely bogus. It is apparently traceable to a misreading or misremembering of Lloyd’s comment in the vocabulary of an obscure book published in 1909. If so, it is a very early example of the way that fake memes are spread and promoted virally because the factoids sound right and are easy to remember.