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.
One of the many indefensible claims made by Daniel Cassidy in his work of false etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, is that clout (as in ‘he clouted me round the head’) comes from the Irish word clabht (clabhta is the primary version in Ó Dónaill and the only version in Dinneen but it is less suitable for Cassidy’s purposes than clabht, so he gives clabht pride of place instead).
It is true that the experts are unsure of the origins of the English word clout. But if you look at the handful of words in Irish which contain –abht and are pronounced –out, you will find that they are all borrowings from English or Norman French. There is stabht (English stout, as in Guinness), fabht (=fault), babhta (a bout) and dabht (=doubt). In other words, if a word contains this set of sounds, it is a loanword from another language, not a native Irish word. Once again, Cassidy’s lack of basic knowledge lets him down.