Tag Archives: etymology of twig

Cassidese Glossary – Twig

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 the African-American expression to dig (to understand or to like) as well as the earlier slang term twig comes from the Irish verb tuigeann, to understand.

This is possible but twig and its relationship to tuig was first discussed by Walter Skeat, who died in 1912. Both twig and dig and their possible origin from tuig were discussed in a paper by Eric P. Hamp, first published in 1981, called “On the Celtic origin of English slang dig/twig ‘understand’”. In other words, this claim has nothing whatever to do with Cassidy and predates his book by generations.