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 book How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that the word buccaneer comes from the supposed ‘Irish’ phrase boc aniar, meaning ‘a buck from the west’. There is no evidence for an Irish origin for buccaneer and the phrase boc aniar was invented by Cassidy.
Cassidy pretends that the origins of buccaneer are uncertain in order to make his claim a little more credible.
“All Anglo-American dictionaries derive the word buccaneer from an obscure French word boucanie [sic] meaning “one who hunts wild oxen” and cooks their meat on a boucan, or a barbecue, said to be from an unidentified Caribbean Native American word. (E.B. Taylor, Early History of Man, 261; OED.)
Buccaneer as buckaneer is first found in the canting dictionaries of the 1690s. “Buckaneers, West-Indian Pirates … also the Rude Rabble in Jamaica.” (B.E.’s The Canting Crew Dictionary, London, 1690.)
In reality, boucan is first recorded in French in the year 1578 in the book Histoire d’un Voyage fait en la terre du Bresil, autrement dite Ammerique, where it is described as a “gril sur lequel les Indiens d’Amérique fumaient la viande” (grill on which the American Indians smoked meat).
The term boucanier is first used in French in the year 1654, where its meaning is described as “aventurier qui chassait les bœufs sauvages aux Antilles” (an adventurer who hunted wild oxen in the Antilles). From the start, there is plentiful evidence that people in the Caribbean believed that there was a link between boucanier and boucan (or bucanero and bucan in Spanish). There is no evidence of an Irish link and certainly no evidence that anyone was ever described as a boc aniar.