Tag Archives: Dan Cassidy

Cassidese Glossary – Hinky

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.

Hinky is apparently an American slang term for nervous or jumpy and by extension, it can describe someone who is acting suspiciously. It dates back to the 1950s and there is no agreement about its origins. Some etymologies are discussed here:

What’s the origin of “hinky”?


However, to the late Daniel Cassidy, any word without a clear origin was automatically a hidden piece of Irish. Hinky is no exception. According to Cassidy, this derives from the Irish ainigí, meaning ‘wicked, bad, nervous, fretful or peevish’. This is actually aingí, not ainigí (which is given by Dinneen as a poetic variant). It is not pronounced with a h-. It is pronounced anniggee or anggee, which doesn’t sound much like hinky. It is defined by Ó Dónaill as:

aingí, a3. 1. Malignant. 2. Peevish, fretful. Leanbh, seanduine, ~, a peevish child, old man. (Var:~och)

This is not a bad match for the meaning but the sound is not a good match and the word is first found in English a long time after the period when there were huge numbers of Irish speakers in the slums of America. In other words, it’s better than Cassidy’s usual standard but still very, very improbable.

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Cassidese Glossary – Heeler

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.

A heeler or ward heeler was the representative of a politician in the local community in American politics in the 19th and early 20th centuries. As Cassidy sneers: ‘The well-heeled editors of most Anglo-American dictionaries derive heeler from the heel of a shoe.’ In other words, the mainstream (and almost certainly correct) view is that a ward heeler who walked the ward making sure that the electorate were happy with the politician.

Cassidy claims that this word is really the Irish éilitheoir. Cassidy says that this is pronounced éló’r or h-ælór. This is Cassidy’s ad hoc personal system of transcription, so it makes little sense but I should point out that words beginning with a vowel are not pronounced with a h- sound in Irish, as Cassidy thought. The word éilitheoir would be pronounced aylihore. Its meaning is given by Ó Dónaill as:

éilitheoir, m. (gs. -ora, pl. ~í).1. Claimant; claimer (ar, of). 2. Complainant, plaintiff.

Dinneen says that this is: éilightheoir, one who demands or charges; a petitioner, a suitor;

a creditor, a claimant : an accuser, a plaintiff.

This is a long way from Cassidy’s ‘one who demands or charges; a petitioner; a claimer; a friendly petitioner; a claimsman, an advocate; one who makes friendly inquiries about; one who visits in a friendly manner’.

The English heeler makes a lot more sense for someone who continually walked around the ward resolving issues. I cannot see why claimant or plaintiff or accuser would have anything much to do with the work of a ward heeler.

 

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.

Cassidese Glossary – Guffaw

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 mystery about the origins of the word guffaw. It’s a Scottish term imitative of the sound of a hearty laugh, like ho-ho-ho in English or pá há (gáire) in Irish. See a brief account of its etymology here: https://www.etymonline.com/word/guffaw

According to the late Daniel Cassidy, this comes from gáire foghar, which he claims means: ‘a laughing sound or noise.’ In fact, Cassidy has got this the wrong way round. Gáire foghair (it needs to be in the genitive) would mean ‘a laugh of sound’, which doesn’t mean anything. It would have to be ‘a sound of laughter’, which would be foghar gáire. In other words, this ‘Irish’ phrase is completely fake and the genuine origin is well-known anyway.

Cassidese Glossary – Grumble

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.

In his book How The Irish Invented Slang, Daniel Cassidy claims that the English word grumble comes from the Irish gruaim béal or gruaim béil, meaning despondency of mouth. As usual, the Irish phrase which is supposedly the origin of the word is not a real Irish phrase and Cassidy provides no evidence for its use. Try looking it up on Google. And it really isn’t a likely expression anyway.

As usual, Cassidy was less than honest about the source of the word grumble. He says that the OED says ‘proximate source uncertain.’ This is very telling. Proximate means immediate. Here’s what the OED really has to say on this subject, before Cassidy cut it and twisted it into the shape that suited him:

“Etymology: Proximate source uncertain: compare French grommeler to mutter between the teeth, Dutch grommelen, < grommen to rumble, growl (compare GRUMME, v.), German grummeln to rumble.”

In other words, grumble is closely related in sound and meaning to words in German and  Dutch, as well as a Germanic loanword in French. It’s either a borrowing from German or Dutch or an unrecorded cognate of these words in Old English. The details of this are in doubt, hence the ‘proximate source uncertain’. However, the Germanic origin isn’t uncertain. The wind doesn’t blow from the south and the north at the same time. If the word comes from the Germanic languages, it doesn’t come from Irish, even if the supposed Irish derivation were really convincing, which in this case it isn’t.

Cassidese Glossary – Grouch

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 claims that grouch comes from the Irish cráite (kraw-cha or krah-cha), which means tormented. This is not a good match in terms of sound or meaning.

Back in the real world, grouch is believed to be a version of the ancient word grutch:

https://www.etymonline.com/word/grutch

 

Cassidese Glossary – Grifter

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 claims that this is another version of grafadóir. As we saw with the words Graft and Grafter, grafadóir means someone who digs over a garden or field and has no connotations of scrounging, money-grubbing or corruption. These meanings were invented by Cassidy.