Tag Archives: Cassidy

Cassidese Glossary – Slogan

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.

It is well-known and admitted by all dictionaries that slogan is of Gaelic origin, though most sources rightly trace it to Scottish Gaelic. The phrase sluagh-ghairm or slua-ghairm (NOT sluagh ghairm – it is a compound word and therefore needs to be written with a hyphen) means call to a host and was the traditional practice of summoning warriors to form an army in the Scottish highlands. There is nothing controversial about this etymology.

Cassidy is wrong in claiming that this is an Irish expression rather than Scottish Gaelic, though the term makes sense in both languages. However, to the best of my knowledge, there is no evidence of the use of slua-ghairm in Irish. There is a word slógadh, which also derives from a variant of slua, which means roughly the same thing – it is used now as the equivalent of the English mobilisation.

Some sources claim that the word slogan derives from an Irish term sluaghán. This is given as a historical term (Hist.) by the lexicographer de Bhaldraithe, whose dictionary was published in 1959. However, there does not seem to be any source for this word. I cannot find any reference to it in Irish before de Bhaldraithe and I would presume that de Bhaldraithe probably realised that there was a link between slogan and slua(gh), so he invented sluaghán as a probable source, not realising that it really derives from Scottish Gaelic slua-ghairm through various manglings in English such as sloghorne. If anyone has any information that contradicts this, I would be interested to hear it.

Since de Bhaldraithe first used it, its spelling has been modernised to sluán in Irish, and it is found in modern dictionaries like focloir.ie as a translation for slogan alongside words like mana and rosc catha. If my theory about de Bhaldraithe is correct, this is what linguists call a ghost word, a word deriving from a mistake or misunderstanding, like the word cigire in Irish or gravy in English. (Look it up if you don’t believe me!)

Cassidese Glossary – Ground Sweat

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.

We have already dealt with this above. Cassidy’s explanation is that it comes from grian suite, which he claims means ‘a sunny site, a sunny spot; fig. a gravesite.’

Grian suite makes no sense in terms of Irish grammar, as it would mean ‘of a sunny site’ (genitives cannot stand along in Irish) or ‘sun-situated’, in which case it would have to be one word. There is no evidence of sunny site or any similar phrase being used for a grave in Irish or in Ireland. This seems to be based on American cemetery names like Sunnylands – if it’s based on anything at all.

In fact, a ground sweat refers to the liquefaction of the body in the grave.

Cassidese Glossary – Gawk, Gawky

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.

Nobody knows where gawk and gawky come from. Its original meaning was “awkward, ungainly,” 1759, and this seems to come from gawk hand, which meant “left hand” (1703) in certain dialects of English. There is a universal association between left-handedness and clumsiness in languages all over the world.

Cassidy, of course, claims that gawk comes from the Irish language:

Gawk, n., a young awkward person, an immature, clumsy, person.

Géag (pron. g’æg, g’íŏg), n., a youth; a young person; a young woman; fig., someone immature and awkward; a young scion; an offspring; a limb, a branch.

Firstly, let’s just dissect Cassidy’s account of the definitions of the Irish words géag. Here’s what Ó Dónaill’s Irish-English dictionary has to say:

géag, f. (gs. géige, npl. ~a, gpl. ~). 1. Branch, limb. (a)~a duine, a person’s limbs. ~ láimhe, choise, arm, leg. Do ghéaga a shíneadh (uait), to stretch (out) one’s limbs. S.a. beatha11(a).(b)~ crainn, branch, bough, of tree. ~a a chur uaidh, (of tree) to branch. (c)~ den mhuir, arm of the sea. (d)Mec. E:~ (deirice), (derrick-)jib. (e)(Of starfish) Ray. (f)(Of hair) Tress. 2. Fig:(a) Genealogical branch. ~a ginealaigh, (branches of) family-tree. (b) Offshoot, offspring; scion, (young) person. ~a Chathaoir Mhóir, (the various branches of) the descendants of Cathaoir Mór. ~ den uaisle, scion of the nobility. An ghéag gheal, the beautiful youth, maiden. Is olc an ghéag é, he is a bad lot. (c) Image of girl (made for festival).

So much for géag having the primary meaning of a young person or someone immature or awkward! Still, perhaps Cassidy got this definition from Dinneen’s early 20th century Irish-English dictionary. Here’s the entry for géag from Dinneen:

Géag, -éige, pl.-a, f., a branch, a limb, a member; butt of a branch; the hand, the arm; a branch of family descent; a person; a scion; a young woman, a youth; an image of a girl made on Patron day (Aug. 10) and the May festival …

In other words, both these dictionaries agree that the primary meaning of géag is a limb, an arm or leg. It also has a subsidiary meaning of a branch on a family tree, a scion, a young person. The ‘young person’ meaning is poetic and emphasises beauty and elegance, not ungainliness. Cassidy’s version of this is typically deceitful and lacking in accuracy.

And then, of course, géag is pronounced gyayg, like yay sandwiched between two hard Gs. It sounds nothing like gawk.

Cassidese Glossary – Doggone

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 work of false etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that doggone is of unknown origin. This is untrue. The dictionaries are agreed that dog-gone or doggone is a 19th century Americanism and that it is a minced oath, a disguised blasphemy. The Oxford English Dictionary says it is ‘generally taken as a deformation of the profane God damn.’ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.) says that ‘doggone’ is an ‘alteration of the Scots dagone,’ which is in turn an ‘alteration of goddamn.’ Merriam-Webster says that it is ‘a euphemism for God damn.’

Furthermore, God damn and doggone are used in exactly the same way. Sometimes they are an exclamation, God damn it! (Doggone it!) What have you done? and sometimes as an adjective, Just take the goddamn (doggone) money already!

Cassidy claims that this derives from the Irish word dogairne and/or the Scottish Gaelic word dògan.

Dogairne is a rare word derived from docair (more usually deacair in modern Irish), which means ‘hard, difficult’. Dogairne is a noun, and is defined as ‘A gross, crude, person or thing.’ Doggone, of course, is not used as a noun. You can’t say ‘My cousin is a total doggone.’

As for dògan, this is a Scottish Gaelic exclamation. The Scottish Gaelic dictionaries make it quite clear that this is a borrowing from doggone or from the Scots equivalent. Note also that Cassidy once again betrayed his total ignorance of the Gaelic languages, as he wrote it as dógan. Anyone who knew the slightest thing about Irish and Gaelic would know that Scottish Gaelic always uses grave accents (the ones that slope back) while Irish always uses acute accents (sloping forward).

It is also an indication of Cassidy’s incompetence that he seems to think that giving two derivations strengthens his case. Of course, in reality, the fact that Cassidy provides two completely separate words in different languages just serves to show how easy it is to find a spurious Gaelic derivation, and how worthless his attempts at etymology were.

Cassidese Glossary – Boss

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.

The facts in relation to the English word boss are quite clear. Boss was borrowed into the English language in America in the 1640s from Dutch baas, a master. (People who know anything about the history of South Africa under the Apartheid system will perhaps remember the Afrikaans term Baaskap, meaning domination, which was used by some of the Afrikaner ideologues who supported that evil system.) Some sources think that it became common in the more egalitarian society of the colonies as a way of avoiding the word master. It then spread to Europe and was borrowed into Irish as bas by the 20th century. Please note that bas is not the main or usual word for a boss, which is saoiste, or cipín (in Donegal) or geafar (a borrowing of English gaffer). There is no evidence of the word bas for a boss in the Irish language before the twentieth century. (It is not found in Dinneen’s dictionary.)

Cassidy misleads in his item on the word boss by pretending that the Irish term is of great antiquity and that it is the source of the English word boss rather than the other way round:

Boss as a slang term for best or good became popular in the 1960s. But boss (bas, best) was old when the King and the Duke drifted down the Mississippi River with Huck Finn and Jim in the 1840s …”

Cassidese Glossary – Booly Dog

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 American English slang term ‘booly dog’ for a policeman comes from Irish:

Buailteach (pron. búěl-t’aċ), adj., (someone) disposed or given to striking, whacking or beating; fig. a policeman. (Dineen, 134)

Even if buailteach sounded anything like booly dog, there would be a problem with Cassidy’s assumption that all languages readily slip between grammatical categories as easily as English. Cassidy assumed that an adjective can be used as a noun, that the adjective buailteach can be used to mean someone who hits. (He assumed the same thing about many other words, for example, that gaosmhar, an adjective meaning wise, can be used to mean a wise person.) In fact, Irish words tend to be more clearly marked than English words. In English, the noun house can be used as an adjective in phrases like ‘the house wine’. In Irish, this is fion an tí, the wine of the house. The word buailteach is not a noun and it has no figurative meaning of ‘policeman’.

Buailteach is pronounced something like boolchah. It sounds nothing like booly dog.

Finally, the consensus seems to be that booly dog has some connection with bullies or with bulldogs, which seems a reasonable conjecture to me.

Put It Up On The Web, Limerick Traitors!

Hats off to Murchadh Mór. Not only has he written an excellent article on The Rubber Bandits’ foolish post about Cassidy’s fake etymology on Nós, and a post giving a number of genuine words which derive from Irish, he has also posted a pic of a document which gives the real origins of the words given by the Rubber Bandits in their list.

Unfortunately, the Rubber Bandits themselves seem unwilling to post the truth on this subject. When Murchadh Mór asked them to circulate the true list, this was their reply:

Stuff about Cassidy being dubious was shared under the original thread. We commented on it, too. It would have been seen.

It’s disappointing to see them refusing to do the right thing here. You see, what they’re failing to acknowledge here is that this isn’t a level playing field. In the world in general, and to an even greater extent on social media, nonsense has longer legs than sense, and lies are faster and better runners than the truth. The figures for shares and likes show that. The original (wrong) post got far more than Murchadh Mór’s corrections.

Why? Well, for a number of reasons. Because lies sparkle and shine, because they can be as glittery and bright and attractive as the human imagination can make them. All truths can be are what they are. Because lies are presented as simple certainties, while the truth is often messy and complex. Because the truth doesn’t have an agenda, while lies are often blended with xenophobia and hatred, which tastes like honey to many people. Because people’s memories are fickle and they selectively filter out anything that doesn’t make a good narrative, which is why the thousands of times homeopathy fails are ignored but the one time where it coincides with a sudden improvement is proof that homeopathy works (mar dhea). (And perhaps it also explains why the definition of the English word dude is given as the definition of the Irish word dúid in the original list of nonsense given by the Rubber Bandits. Or perhaps someone was just lying … !

Because of these facts, it makes me wonder what the real story is about the RB’s post on Cassidy. Who wrote it? Did the RBs themselves write it, or was the (mis)information supplied to them by somebody else? A friend, a relative, a fan? Someone they don’t want to offend by getting off the fence and telling it like it is?

William Blake wrote that ‘the road to Hell is paved with good intentions’. So just remember this. Cassidy wasn’t a nice man who got it a bit wrong. He was a malicious fraud and people who support him are choosing lies over truth. It’s that simple. And as I’ve said above, lies already have an inbuilt advantage over the truth, so for fuck’s sake, lads, let’s stop giving liars and their falsehoods a head start.


The Big Bad Wolof

The other day, I came across a comment which Cassidy wrote on the Daltaí Boards in 2005. It shows plainly what a worthless, whining, self-righteous dimwit Daniel Cassidy was. Here’s Cassidy’s post, interspersed with my comments:

Terence Patrick Dolan, in his Dictionary of Hiberno English claims that smithereens and kabosh are not Irish.

He is an English professor at UCD.

Here, of course, we are being invited to sympathise with Cassidy and regard Dolan, the ‘establishment’ academic, as a fool (even though Cassidy quoted Dolan as an authority long after this, when the book was published). However, as soon as Cassidy posted this, another member of the site with the username Daisy challenged him. He was distorting the facts. Dolan mentions the proximate origin of smidiríní and the word smiodar but he (rightly) is unsure whether the word smiodar is originally a loanword from English. It certainly looks like it’s from smith and therefore of Germanic rather than Celtic origin. And kybosh, as we’ve discussed before, almost certainly isn’t of Irish origin.

When I suggested that glom, which is NY slang meaning to grab, might be derived from the Irish word gla/m I was laughed off the American Dialect Society website. They have a sarcastic motto…if any word is origin unknown they say it must be “Wolof or Irish.” It is meant to be a joke, since the assumtpion is that there are no Wolof or Irish words in English and American speech.

Again, this shows what a useless, lazy, incompetent little twit Cassidy was. Glom is ultimately from Scottish Gaelic glàm, via Lowland Scots glaum. All the dictionaries agree on this. It isn’t New York slang and it doesn’t derive from an undercurrent of Irish below the surface of American society. It is irrelevant to his thesis. As for the ‘sarcastic motto’ about Wolof and Irish, it’s quite possible that people used ‘Wolof and Irish’ when addressing Cassidy and his arrogant bullshit. But the real phrase, known to linguists the world over, is ‘to cry Wolof.’ This is a jocular reference to ‘crying wolf’, and it means that someone is using the evidence of obscure languages to prove a point so that few scholars will be able to follow them. In a sense, Cassidy was crying Wolof, because there are relatively few linguists out there with Irish. If Cassidy had been claiming a massive influence from Russian or German in English, he would have been outed as a liar immediately. He was able to hide behind the obscurity of a language which relatively few people speak (Cassidy certainly didn’t speak any Irish, as I’ll demonstrate below).

I suggested ward “heeler” might be from éilitheoir and slugger might be from “slacaire” (a batter, a mauler) and brag from bréag and these etymologies were utterly dismissed in a blizzard of hostility on the ADS-LIst.

But what d’ye expect from a pig but a…grunt?

What indeed would you expect from a pig but a grunt? This is so typical of the lying bullshit Cassidy tried to use to fool the public in his insane book. A word which means claimant or plaintiff and is pronounced aylihore is a better source for a politician’s helper than the English heel + er? To me heel + er makes perfect sense, because he walked at the politician’s heel or brought his supporters to heel. What about slugger? Why wouldn’t it be slacker if it came from slacaire? And what about other possible origins? What about schläger in German, which means a hitter or a bat, or a cognate in Swedish or Dutch or English dialect? As for bréag, it’s quite obvious why the people from the ADS-List thought Cassidy was a time-wasting crank. The words brag and bost (brag and boast) are found together as a phrase in English within a generation of the Black Death in the 14th century. If brag is so ancient in English, how can it have anything to do with Irish, or with American slang? And bréag doesn’t mean a boast, it means a lie, which isn’t the same thing.

To think that ten million Irish people came to North America over 500 years — at least 60% of whom were Irish speakers — and left no lexical imprint on the vernacular is a counter-intuitive impossibility. But in American and English scholarly discourse and among ALL DICTIONARY EDITORS in 2005 it is the Iron Law of English linguistic neo-orthodoxy.

Again, most American dictionary editors are “more English than the English…”

Again, in this case Cassidy is trying to lead people into a morass of ignorance (and it’s amazing how many people have been more than willing to follow him into it!) Yes, lots of Irish speakers went to the States down the years but the words ‘counter-intuitive impossibility’ are just more of Cassidy’s self-serving crap. Why is it so counter-intuitive that Irish would leave little trace? There are millions of people of Indian and Pakistani origin in England. How many Hindi or Urdu words are used in English slang (apart from words that date back to the Raj like blighty?) I can’t think of any. The point being, the borrowing of vocabulary depends on lots of different factors. Cassidy failed utterly to demonstrate the influence of Irish on English. I’ve just shown that with Cassidy’s examples above. Cassidy didn’t provide evidence, or research properly, or give references. He just stated that there was a phrase similar to something in English and in most cases, like baloney and béal ónna or crony and comhroghna, his ‘Irish’ candidates were simply nonsense he had just made up and didn’t exist in Irish at all! Then, to protect himself from criticism, he pretended that the academics were all involved in some pro-English conspiracy! In the years since I started CassidySlangScam, I have repeatedly challenged his supporters to provide the proof that he didn’t. Not one of them has ever done so and not one of them ever will, because the evidence simply doesn’t exist.

So at this point all agree that every ethnic group in America has contributed to the hybrid vernacular tongue that created our culture but…the Irish.

Gaeilge dofheicthe agus balbh, covered over with a shroud of “whiteness.”

What a total and utter cretin! The Irish have contributed to American English, with a handful of words and a few idioms which have been translated like ‘to hit the road.’ But have other groups like the Germans or the French or the Swedish really contributed a lot more than the Irish? No, they haven’t. German has contributed loads of words for philosophical or culinary concepts but ordinary ‘street’ words of German origin like keister and spiel are a mere handful. Even less in the case of Swedish. There are a few slang words from French like craps and dime but again, we’re talking about a handful. (Leaving aside the huge numbers of French words borrowed into English from the Middle Ages onwards, which are completely irrelevant to Cassidy’s argument.) Cassidy is just lying and distorting the truth when he writes this – as usual.

As for Gaeilge dofheicthe agus balbh, covered over with a shroud of “whiteness” … This just shows that Cassidy didn’t give a toss about our language. He thinks he’s saying ‘Invisible and dumb Irish language’ – whatever that means. (Unseen and unheard, perhaps?) But Gaeilge is a feminine noun, so it would have to be dhofheicthe and bhalbh, and then again, when you have two adjectives together after a noun you don’t put and in as you do in English, so it would be Gaeilge dhofheicthe bhalbh. Even if you correct the grammar like this, it still sounds like shite. A real Irish speaker might say something like “Rinneadh neamart sa Ghaeilge agus fágadh gan ghuth í.” (The Irish language was neglected and left without a voice.) Or dozens of other things but they would say it in a way that genuinely works in Irish. Cassidy had no understanding of this because he didn’t know any Irish.

As for the nonsense about ‘whiteness’, this is typical of Cassidy’s fake radicalism. Cassidy was a pompous nobody with no qualifications, a thief and a liar and a charlatan. He had absolutely no right to appoint himself a spokesperson for the Irish diaspora, and anyone who supports him is either a liar or a nut-job or a fool. Take your pick.

Nice Buns

Apart from its use for a bread roll, the word bun has a number of uses in English slang. One use, which dates back about a hundred years, is in phrases like ‘to have a bun on’, which means to be mildly intoxicated. Another, more common use, is buns meaning buttocks. This is more recent and it is always used in the plural. Daniel Cassidy, in his moronic book How The Irish Invented Slang, claims that both these terms come from the Irish word bun, meaning base or foundation.

Is there any chance that Cassidy is right about this? Firstly, bun is not used in modern Irish for buttocks. However, there is some evidence that the Scottish Gaelic word bun was borrowed hundreds of years ago into the Scots language as a word for a rabbit’s or hare’s tail or scut (this is also believed to be the origin of bunny for a rabbit) and that by extension bun is used in Scots dialects (in the singular) for a bottom because of this. This is also found in Ulster dialects, along with derivatives like bundie, a childish term for the bottom.  However, it seems to me obvious that the more modern version buns as in “nice buns”  is not likely to be related to this. Buns look like buttocks and this is the likely origin of the term.

As for “having a bun on”, the origin of this phrase is unknown. Cassidy lifts the meaning foundation out of context and claims that this would mean a basic level of drunkenness. This is one hell of a stretch and of course, bun is not used in Irish in this way. There are plenty of terms for levels of drunkenness in Irish, and a mild drunkenness would be described with terms like ar bogmheisce and meidhreach.

As usual, this is just another foolish distortion of the facts. Cassidy was just a sad, deluded crank with no talent and no qualifications.

More on Sean Sweeney

I found another piece online from Sean Sweeney, who is apparently some kind of big wheel (mar dhea) in New York local politics. Sweeney obviously thinks that Cassidy was right, though he doesn’t have a great record in picking reliable friends and allies. His close ally in SoHo, Don MacPherson, is currently serving a long sentence for a massive mortgage fraud. Sweeney was apparently convinced of MacPherson’s innocence (http://observer.com/2009/04/crank-or-champion/) but that didn’t stop MacPherson from pleading guilty at the trial!

Anyway, back to Sweeney’s irrational and half-baked defence of Cassidy’s absurd book. After failing to provide any evidence for his crackpot friend’s theories when challenged to do so and failing to convince the administrators on Wikipedia that he had anything worthwhile to say about Cassidy’s lying dreckfest, Sean Sweeney then decided to post his irresponsible nonsense on a discussion on the website of Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. An individual called Sean Mc Shee had posted on January 30, 2013, about the phrase ‘so long’.

I’ve wondered if it derived from the Gaelic “slan” – sometimes used as a goodbye – it sounds like it could be an anglicized spelling of a word heard orally. And if first appears right after the potato famine.

This is a perfectly reasonable comment and there is nothing wrong with wondering or asking the question. The answer which Sweeney gave was much less reasonable. On June 17, 2014, he posted the following reply:

Actually, it does. Unfortunately, because it originated as street slang, dictionaries are loathe to list it and just add “origin unknown”, something they do with many US slang words of Irish origin. I urge you to read Daniel Cassidy’s “How the Irish Invented Slang” to learn more.

The same old rubbish. Not ‘it might do’ or ‘it’s possible’. The expression must come from Irish, because Sweeney says so and Sweeney knows it all! The truth, of course, is very different. It always is with Sean Sweeney! And of course, there’s no word of warning about Cassidy’s book containing nonsense, in spite of the fact that he admitted as much in his comments here. (“Some of Cassidy’s derivations may be nonsense …”)

For those who don’t share Sweeney’s delusional belief in his own omniscience and want to learn the real facts about the possible origins of the phrase ‘so long’, I suggest you follow these links:



The truth is, slán is only one of a number of possible derivations, some of which are considerably more credible than the Irish one. And what evidence does Sweeney have for the claim that the dictionaries ignored it because it originated as street slang? None whatsoever, of course! The real reason why they say that its origin is unknown is because there are a number of different possible origins and there is no way of knowing which is correct. But if you’re as important as Sean Sweeney thinks he is, you don’t have to bother with boring details like facts. You don’t have to defer to the opinions of experts in the field who really know what they’re talking about! Whatever you say instantly becomes the truth, and of course any rubbish books produced by your mates also instantly become the truth as well!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work with statements given in a police station or a court of law … Nach mór an trua é sin ach nach beag an t-iontas!