Tag Archives: Danny Cassidy

Cassidese Glossary – Throng

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 throng means a crowd or large group of people. Daniel Cassidy, in his etymological hoax, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that this was from the Irish word drong, with the same meaning. When I first saw this claim, I made the assumption that drong is a borrowing from Old Norse into Irish. In fact, this is incorrect. Drong is probably (according to the excellent Celtic scholar Ranko Matasović) an ancient borrowing from Germanic into Proto-Celtic, so it goes back before Irish had differentiated from the main stem of Celtic.

Regardless of the origins of drong, the English word throng is of ancient Germanic origin and does not come from Irish, as you can see at this link: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/throng

Cassidese Glossary – Tiger

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.

According to Wikipedia, in the US, the card game known as Faro was also called ‘bucking the tiger’ or ‘twisting the tiger’s tail’, a reference to a picture of a Bengal tiger which appeared on the backs of playing cards.

Cassidy rejected this (by not actually mentioning it) and claimed that the word tiger in this case derives from the Irish adjective diaga (pron. jee-agga or dee-agga), which means divine. According to Cassidy: ‘The Tiger (diaga, divine, holy, diagaireacht, a divinity) was the god of the odds.’

Dia is a divinity in Irish. The variant diagaireacht could just, at a pinch, be used for divinity, the subject of study (not A divinity), though the usual word for that is diagacht. None of these words has any close or meaningful relation to card-playing or Faro.

Cassidese Glossary – Taunt

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.

Daniel Cassidy, in his work of etymological fantasy, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that hundreds of English words were really derived from Irish. For example, he claimed that the word taunt is derived from the Irish tathant, which means to urge or incite or entreat.

There are several problems with this. While taunt sounds a bit like tathant (tahunt), the word taunt is already found in the English of England at the beginning of the 16th century. This is too early for it to have come from Irish, as there was no significant Irish immigration to England that far back. Furthermore, most scholars regard it as from French, probably from tenter (to tempt or to provoke). The meaning is also quite different. Tathant is a word with positive connotations. It means to urge, to encourage, to entreat, not to rile someone or provoke them.

Cassidese Glossary – Tally

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.

According to the late Daniel Cassidy, in his etymological hoax, How The Irish Invented Slang, the English word tally comes from the Irish word táille, which means a fee.

There are two theories about the origins of táille. One (found in Maclennan’s Gaelic Dictionary), is that it comes from the Early Irish term athlad, change. This seems very improbable. The other theory, which is probably correct, is that táille is a borrowing from the French word taille, meaning size or height.

The French word taille and the English term tally (and almost certainly, the Irish word táille as well) derive from the Latin talea, a cutting, rod or stick. The word tally does not come from Irish.

Cassidese Glossary – The Letter S

So, partly as a result of the current coronavirus crisis, I have now completed the section of Cassidy’s glossary beginning with the letter S. There were 99 headwords in this section. Added to the 366 words already covered, there are now 465 words in our Cassidese Glossary.

Out of these words, as in the other 366, not one of them successfully fulfils the two criteria that 1. they are fully convincing as the sole or best explanation for the origin of the word or phrase and 2. that they are original to Cassidy.

Of course, there are some genuine Irish words in this section, words such as smithereens, shebeen, shamrock and slew but all of these words are well-established as words of Irish origin and their Irishness has never been disputed.

There are also a number of derivations that probably aren’t true but were already in the public domain long before Cassidy, derivations such as snazzy coming from snas and smashin’ coming from ’s maith sin.

However, the majority of the words in this section are as moronic and worthless as Cassidy’s usual standard, claims like swank coming from somhaoineach, sucker from sách úr, stitches from staid aiteas and sneeze from sní as. Ridiculous, puerile nonsense, embellished with the most outrageous lies and fakery.

Now, there are only a couple of letters to go. With a bit of luck, I will have dealt with them too within a couple of weeks.

Cassidese Glossary – Swoon

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 etymological hoax, How The Irish Invented Slang, Daniel Cassidy claimed that the word swoon (to faint) comes from the Irish suan, an old-fashioned word for sleep.

Confusingly, Cassidy states that the English word swoon is of unknown etymology, then below that he says:

Many Anglo-American dictionaries derive swoon “from Old English geswōgan in a faint … past participle of swōgan, as in āswōgan, to choke, of uncertain origin.”

In other words, according to the mainstream dictionaries, while the ultimate origins of the word may be unknown, the history of the word swoon goes as far back as the Old English period more than a thousand years ago. By the Middle English period (according to the Michigan Middle English Dictionary) it was swounen, defined as “To become unconscious, faint, swoon; collapse in a swoon.”

In other words, the similarity of swoon and suan is pure coincidence and the word swoon is not of Irish origin.

Cassidese Glossary – Swell

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.

Swell is (or was) a common American expression. It originally meant posh, upper-class and then acquired the meaning of ‘wonderful’. The excellent Online Etymological Dictionary says this about it as a verb:

“Old English swellan “grow or make bigger” (past tense sweall, past participle swollen), from Proto-Germanic *swelnanan (cf. Old Saxon swellan, Old Norse svella, Old Frisian swella, Middle Dutch swellen, Dutch zwellen, Old High German swellan, German schwellen), of unknown origin.”

As a noun, Etymonline says this:

“early 13c., “a morbid swelling,” from swell (v.). In reference to a rise of the sea, it is attested from c.1600. The meaning “wealthy, elegant person” is first recorded 1786; hence the adjectival meaning “fashionably dressed or equipped” (1810), both from the notion of “puffed-up, pompous” behavior. The sense of “good, excellent” first occurs 1897, and as a stand-alone expression of satisfaction it is recorded from 1930 in American English.”

The development here is pretty clear. Daniel Cassidy, in his etymological hoax, How The Irish Invented Slang, chooses to ignore the opinion of language experts and link it to the word sóúil in Irish. Sóúil is a real word (many of Cassidy’s phrases are invented) but it is not at all common. It is pronounced so-ool, which is not a lot like swell. It means ‘well-off, comfortable, delicious’. There is no evidence in favour of Cassidy’s claim and the most parsimonious explanation is that swell in the sense of good developed out of the earlier senses of swell as fashionable or posh. After all, people used to talk about dandies, and then they started saying ‘that’s just dandy’. And the Irish mórtasach means ‘puffed-up, swollen, proud or haughty,’ which shows a similar development of meaning to the English, as does the Irish word borr (‘swell’) which can also be used to describe someone being swollen-headed or full of themselves.

Cassidese Glossary – Swank

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 swank means dashing smartness or swagger. It is an English dialect word, related to swing. The root of it is the notion of swaggering, and from this it has picked up other notions of self-importance or poshness. It is a cognate of the German word schwanken, meaning to sway, to oscillate, to vary.

Daniel Cassidy, in his etymological hoax, How The Irish Invented Slang, chose to ignore the available information on the origins of the word and claimed instead that it derives from the Irish word somhaoineach. This is obviously nonsense, even on the basis of pronunciation. The word somhaoineach has three syllables, while swank has only one. Like many English words, swank has a clipped, Germanic sound to it while somhaoineach is much softer. It is pronounced soh-ween-yah. It would not become swank in English.

It is a very, very rare word, derived from the word maoin meaning wealth or property and the particle so– which means easy, along with the adjectival ending –each. Ó Dónaill defines it as ‘profitable, valuable’, which is barely related to the various meanings of swank and swanky.

In short, there is no evidence for Cassidy’s claim and there is plenty of evidence in favour of the English derivation.

Cassidese Glossary – Sunday Punch

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.

Apparently, the phrase ‘a Sunday punch’ means a killer punch, a knockout, either in boxing terms or metaphorically in other areas like politics. It is not difficult to explain this expression. Most boxing matches probably occurred on Saturday night, so a Sunday punch is surely one that puts you out of action until the following day. Another common expression, ‘to knock someone into the middle of next week’, uses the same metaphor.

Daniel Cassidy, in his etymological hoax, How The Irish Invented Slang, immediately took his Irish dictionary in hand and found what he thought was a suitable word, sonnda.

‘Sonnda, al. sonnta, adj., powerful, strong, courageous, bold (punch). (Ó Dónaill, 1134; Dineen, 1088.)’

As usual in Cassidy’s ‘research’, this is not a real quotation. Sonnda derives from the word sonn, which means a stake or post, so sonnda is a very old-fashioned, literary word for powerful, steadfast, and would be used of a castle or a fortification, not a blow. To confuse matters, Dinneen gives it as an alternative spelling of sonnta, which means forceful, pushy or cheeky. In other words, Cassidy is mixing the entries for two distinct terms. Moreover, none of the meanings attached to the words sonnda or sonnta would lead you to believe that they would ever be applied to blows or punches. There are lots of adjectives which would be used in this way with the word for blow (buille) – buille trom, buille treascrach, buille cumhachtach, buille láidir, buille tolgach.

Cassidese Glossary – Sucker

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 late Daniel Cassidy, in his etymological hoax, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that sucker (in the sense of stooge or naïve person) comes from the Irish sách úr meaning ‘a fresh, well-fed fellow’ or ‘fat cat’ ready to be fleeced.

As usual with Cassidy’s claims, the phrase sách úr is not found together (as noun and adjective) in any Irish text, so we will just have to examine the two constituent words to see if they could be used in this way.

Firstly, úr does mean fresh or new. Sách is primarily an adjective meaning sated, full, well-fed. Its main use in some dialects (though not in mine: we use measartha) is as an adverb, as the equivalent of words like ‘fairly’ or ‘pretty’ in English.

Bhí sé sách maith. (It was fairly good, good enough)

But in Cassidy’s phrase, the word sách is obviously a noun. In the Irish dictionaries (such as Ó Dónaill) there is a noun sách meaning a well-fed person and the word is familiar to almost all Irish speakers from the proverb Ní thuigeann sách seang, má thuigeann ní in am. (The well-fed do not understand the slender, if they do it’s too late.) But just because something is used as a noun in a proverb doesn’t mean you can use it as a noun in any circumstances. Proverbs have their own rules, in Irish and in English. For example, in English you can say “Only the good die young.” But you can’t say “*That man is a real good” or “*That family are really nice – they’re all goods!”

If you have any Irish, check out some uses of sách in this excellent website, Pota Focal –

http://www.potafocal.com/Search.aspx?Text=s%c3%a1ch&Lang=ga

There are lots and lots of references on Pota Focal where the word is being used as an adverb and at least one where it is a noun, but in that case it occurs with seang and is a clear reference to the proverb.

So, I am confident that sách would not be used as Cassidy says. Of course, we have to remember that Cassidy didn’t know any Irish at all. In Irish, there are plenty of expressions which could be used to mean gull or sucker: boigéisí; gabhdán; glasóg; mothaolaí, and Irish speakers would have used an expression like these rather than sách úr.