Tag Archives: béideán

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:


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