Tag Archives: Counterpunch

Cassidese Glossary – Guzzle

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 word guzzle first occurs in English in the late 16th century. There is no certainty about where it comes from, though it is probably imitative, based on the sound that people make when they swallow food or drink quickly.

The late Daniel Cassidy, in his very unscholarly book How The Irish Invented Slang, disagreed. He claimed that it comes from gus óil, which he claims is an Irish phrase meaning ‘a vigorous drink; high-spirited vigorous drinking , (act of) gulping down a drink, to drink with great vigour, to drink greedily.’ It doesn’t, of course. As with his made up source for guffaw, he has placed the words gus and ól back to front. The word gus means ‘force, vigour, resource, enterprise, spirit, gumption, self-importance’. Óil is the genitive of ól, meaning drink or drinking. If gus óil existed, it would probably mean the tendency to be arrogant or fired up because of taking too much drink, not the act of drinking vigorously.

I suggest you copy the phrase “gus óil” and put it in a search box in Google. See if you get any hits unrelated to Cassidy! In fact, do it with all of Cassidy’s made-up Irish phrases and you’ll get the same results.

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Cassidese Glossary – Dad, Daddy

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.

Cassidy points out that expressions like daid and daidí and daidín in Irish resemble the English words dad and daddy.

There is no doubt that the words dad and daddy go back a long way in English. Dad is found as far back as 1500 but is probably much older. Some sources have claimed that this is of Celtic origin, and this is the view that Cassidy takes (though Cassidy was not trained as a linguist, and his input in this case is completely uninformed and therefore irrelevant).

Douglas Harper’s excellent Online Etymology Dictionary takes a different view, pointing out that such forms (like mum, mammy and mama) are ‘nearly universal and probably prehistoric’ (https://www.etymonline.com/word/dad).

Whatever the origins of dad and daddy, Cassidy was not the first to make a claim of Celtic origins for these words, so there is nothing original in his treatment of this subject.

Cassidese Glossary – Casing the Joint

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.

Unfortunately, I missed a couple of words so this word and can are appearing outside of their alphabetical sequence.

Casing or casing the joint is an American expression which is believed to derive from the card game called faro. Faro games needed an item of equipment called a case-keeper, an abacus-like device which recorded the state of play. Players needed to pay careful attention to the case-keeper, so the expression ‘to keep cases’ came to mean ‘to keep a close watch’ by the 1880s.It was then a natural extension of these meanings that watching a target house for vulnerabilities was referred to as ‘casing’.

Cassidy does not accept this theory. He inexplicably derives the faro game ‘keeping cases’ from the Irish casadh, “turning, twisting, winding or coiling.” He does not explain why the word casadh would be a good explanation, or a better explanation than the English word case, except to say that in a faro game the main move is called the turn in English. Turn in the sense of a turn (bout) in a game is seal in Irish. In the sense of turning cards over, it would be tiontú or iompú. The word casadh simply doesn’t work here. It is also wrong from the perspective of pronunciation. There is a word in Irish that sounds like case, the verb céasadh, which means to torture or to crucify.

Cassidese Glossary – Can

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.

Cassidy explains this word as follows: 

Can (slang), n., rear end; butt, the human rump.

Ceann (pron. k’an), n., (of person) end, extremity; rear end.

This is not true. Ceann means ‘head’. It can have the meaning of extremity in certain circumstances. Ó Dónaill gives a couple of uses of the word ceann where it can refer to the backside. For example Bhí a dhá cheann i dtalamh,(literally ‘his two ends were in the earth’) means he was bent low over his work, drudging. And the idiom Bhí ceann síos air (An end down was on him) means he was suffering from diarrhoea. However, these are specific idioms. It is quite wrong to suggest that ceann can be used in ordinary conversation to refer to the backside. No Irish speaker would say *Suigh ansin ar do cheann to mean Sit there on your bottom, and they would have to do this routinely for the word ceann to have been borrowed with the meaning of backside.

Back in the real world, Douglas Harper (https://www.etymonline.com/word/can) says that can has been a slang term meaning “toilet” since c. 1900, which is said to be a shortening of piss-can. He says that the meaning of “buttocks” is from c. 1910, perhaps extended from this. This may be right, or it may be wrong, but ceann does not mean ‘rear end’ in Irish so Cassidy’s claim is worthless.

Cassidese Glossary – Cooze

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.

Cooze is a crude term for the vagina which first surfaces in American slang in the 1950s. It doesn’t really exist in Ireland, apart from among fans of the Sopranos and the Wire. There is no definite explanation for its origin, though there are a few theories.

Daniel Cassidy observed that there is a word cuas in Irish. He says that:

Cuas, anat. n., a cavity; an orifice; a hole; fig. a vagina. “Cuas” is an utterly neutral anatomical term in Irish.

This looks quite convincing, as long as you accept Cassidy’s Do-It-Yourself definition at face value and don’t look at the original sources, the Irish dictionaries. Here’s what Ó Dónaill says about the word cuas:

  1. Cavity; hollow, recess. ~ crainn, hollow of tree. ~ aille, hole in cliff. 2. Cove, creek. 3. Anat: Sinus, cup. ~ coirp, sróine, body, nasal cavity.

Dinneen is pretty much the same, though it does say that cuas means ‘an orifice in physiology’.There is an excellent book of Irish-language sexual slang which I have mentioned before. It is Ó Ghlíomáil go Giniúint by D. Ó Luineacháin (Coiscéim, 1997). In this 76 page treatise, Ó Luineacháin gives a huge number of slang terms. Yet he fails to mention the use of cuas to mean vagina. The reason for this is quite clear. It doesn’t mean vagina. Its usual meaning is a shallow alcove or inlet or recess. There is no evidence apart from Cassidy’s invented quotes that cuas has ever meant vagina in the Irish language.

Cassidese Glossary – Cantankerous

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.

You can find an honest and intelligent discussion of the origins of this word here: https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=cantankerous

Cassidy claims that this derives from the ‘Irish’ “Ceanndánacht ársa (pron. k’an danánǝċt’ ársǝ), old obstinacy, aged willfulness, elderly stubbornness.” Leaving aside the badly-done attempt at phonetics with the extra syllable, there is absolutely no evidence of anyone ever using the expression ceanndánacht ársa in the Irish language. It is completely fictional. It is also worth pointing out that there are hundreds of adjectives in English that end in – ous (joyous, kernaptious, captious). The ársa has been randomly stuck on the end of the ceanndánacht in an attempt to explain this problem away.

Cassidese Glossary – Cahoots

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.

There is no certainty about the origin of the term ‘in cahoots.’ It is first found in American English in 1829. The explanation given by the Oxford English Dictionary is that English got the expression from the word French cahute, meaning a cabin or hut, which was borrowed into Scots in the 16th century. The metaphor is the same as being ‘in bed together’ – the conspirators are in a narrow space, close together. There is then a mystery about how it survived without reference for hundreds of years and surfaced in American speech in the 19th century. However, that is not so strange. Many settlers came from Scotland and it is not so strange that expressions would survive in isolated mountain communities without being written down.

However, there is another explanation, and perhaps a better one. The OED states that others have claimed an origin in the French word cohorte, the source of the English ‘cohort,’ which originally meant a band of soldiers and now means a friend or companion.

Cassidy’s claim is that the Irish comh-údar means ‘a co-author, co-originator, co-instigator, fig. partner.’ This is one of Cassidy’s many made-up definitions. Co-author is the genuine meaning and it does not have a figurative meaning of ‘partner’. While údar has a range of meanings on its own, there is no evidence of anyone using comhúdar to mean anything else but a co-author of a book, document or report, which is completely inappropriate here. Even if it did exist and was appropriate, the use of the preposition in makes no sense and the pronunciation of comhúdar does not resemble cahoot or cahoots.