Tag Archives: crath abair

Cassidese Glossary – Craps

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.

Craps is an American term for a dice game played out on the street. When I dealt with this before, I made the mistake of taking a traditional explanation as proven fact, the notion that it came from New Orleans and represents a contraction of French crapaud, toad, because people squatting as they played it resembled toads. As I was writing this, I checked the facts and found that the favoured explanation now (according to the American Heritage Dictionary) is that a low score of two ones (now snake eyes) was formerly known as crabs, and this word crabs morphing into craps is understandable enough.

Whatever the genuine origin, Cassidy’s claim is that it comes from the Irish crath [sic – should be croith]! abair! ‘shake! speak!’ because people in a craps game shout the number as they throw (and shake) the dice. Of course, this phrase would sound nothing like craps but apparently, this is a contraction … A contraction of a non-existent (and extremely unconvincing) phrase. The sound of the word for shake is also not a good match, and not what Cassidy thought it was. You can find some sound files in the three main dialects of Irish here: https://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/shake


Another ridiculous claim made by Daniel Cassidy in his nonsensical book, How The Irish Invented Slang, is the idea that the name of the game of craps, an American dice game, comes from Irish. All of the dictionaries trace the origins of craps to Louisiana. The game derives from crapaud, the French for toad, because people squatted like a toad over the ground as they played it. Cassidy doesn’t bother mentioning this alternative, well-established and highly probable explanation.

Cassidy’s made-up explanation is that it comes from  crath abair, which Cassidy says means ‘shake-say’. Of course, this would really be craith or croith, not crath, and it wouldn’t sound much like craps (krah-abbur is the way most people would pronounce it). If craps were of Irish origin, it would be far more likely to have some connection with cnaipí (pronounced krippee in Ulster Irish, which means buttons).

Cassidy’s suggestion Is wildly improbable, like almost every suggestion in this ridiculous book. There is absolutely no evidence for it and the French explanation makes a lot more sense.