Tag Archives: clabht

Cassidese Glossary – Clout

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.

Boot and Babhta

Daniel Cassidy, in his absurd and ridiculous work of pseudo-scholarship, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that the word boot (as in ‘to boot’) comes from the Irish word babhta.

In fact, the etymology of the words boot and bout in English is quite complex.

Boot comes from the Old English bot ‘help, relief, advantage; atonement,’ while bout comes from a Middle English word bught meaning ‘a bend’. Neither of these words has any connection with boot meaning shoe (which is from French) and only a distant connection with booty meaning captured prize, which is from Germanic through French (and acquired its current meaning as in ‘bootilicious’ through Black American English). Freebooter is from Dutch.

At some stage over the last four hundred years, the English word bout was borrowed into Irish as babhta. There is no doubt that this is a borrowing into Irish and not the other way round. As we have said before, the only words with this pattern of sounds in Irish are borrowings, words like stabht (the drink, stout), clabhta (clout), dabht (doubt) or fabht (fault).  In Irish, the meanings of the two English words boot and bout are conflated in babht, because we find expressions like de bhabhta, to boot, as well as babhta tinnis, a bout of illness.

Clout

One of the many stupid claims made by Daniel Cassidy in his daft book, 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). Now, 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.