Tag Archives: false etymology

Cassidese Glossary – Dander

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 dander seems to be of Scottish or Northern English origin. According to Wiktionary, it seems to have a number of meanings and probably a number of different origins. The term ‘to get one’s dander up’ is of unknown origin. Other uses such as ‘to go for a dander’ (to go for a meandering walk) seem to corruptions of daddle, a version of dawdle. The Ulsterism ‘to dander a child on your knee’ is plainly a version of ‘dandle’.

Cassidy’s suggestion is that dander comes from tintrí. This is a bad match in terms of pronunciation and meaning. The word tintrí is defined as follows:

  1. Fiery, hot-tempered. 2. Flashing; ardent, fierce.

You can find sound files for the word tintrí in the three main dialects of Irish at this link:

https://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/fiery#fiery__2

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Cassidese Glossary – Cuffin

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.

(Note: Again, this is not in alphabetical order but in this case, these two words, cove and cuffin, are placed together before crack and cracker in Cassidy’s book, so I have followed his order here.)

Cuffin is a cant expression similar to cove. It is believed to be derived from cove or related to it in some way. Cassidy suggests that this comes from caomhán, an obscure diminutive of caomh. Again, the pronunciation is wrong (keevawn) and there is no reason to suppose that there is any Irish connection. Also, cove and cuffin mean a fellow, a man, not a friend or pal or beloved person.

Cassidese Glossary – Coochie Dancer

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.

(Note: Unfortunately, I’ve missed a few words in this section, so they are not in alphabetical order. If I can work out a way of rearranging them, I’ll do so.)

Coochie dancing is apparently another term for lap-dancing. Daniel Cassidy, in his work of false etymologies, How The Irish Invented Slang, claims that it comes from the Irish geáitse, meaning ‘affected manner, pose, gesture, airs, affectations, antics.’ Geáitse is pronounced something like gyigh-cha, with the igh of right. In other words, not much like coochie.

According to the etymologists, this may be related to a slang term for a vagina, and it originally occurs not as coochie, but as hoochie-coochie. It is not difficult to think of better possibilities than Cassidy’s Irish claim. What about Welsh cwtch, meaning a hug? Or it could come from Spanish cuchichear, to whisper. Or from French coucher as in ‘Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?’ Or from German Kätzchen meaning ‘kitten or young girl’. Or perhaps from Romany cushti meaning ‘good, wonderful’.  Or from Scots cutty, as in Cutty Sark, the half-naked dancer in Burns’ Tam O’Shanter. Or, here’s a thought, from coochie-coo, as in the kind of baby language used by someone when flirting (I wanna be loved by you, alone, boo-boo-be-doo…) There is a world of possibilities, including, I’m sure, a few words in Wolof but there is absolutely nothing linking this word to the Irish word geáitse.

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 – 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 – Cady

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.

Cady seems to be an old term for a highwayman. It does not come from the Irish gadaí, as Cassidy claims, which is the general Irish word for a thief and sounds nothing like cady (it is pronounced gaddy). We do not know where cady comes from but it is likely to be from the name of a famous highwayman called William Cady, a brutal thug, murderer and rapist from Norfolk who became well-known in the reign of James II.

Cassidese Glossary – Caca

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 work of fake etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, Cassidy claimed that the word caca (used as a childish euphemism for shit in English since the 19th century) derives from the genitive of the Irish word cac, meaning shit. This is how Cassidy tells it:

Caca, n., excrement, shit; often used as euphemism in presence of children.

Caca, gen. as attrib. adj. of cac, excrement, filth; fig. shit; rud caca, a dirty, shitty thing. (Dineen, 145)

The Irish cac and caca are probably derived from the Latin caco, to void excrement. (Cassell’s Latin-English Dictionary, 76.)”

This is completely wrong. It is believed that caca was borrowed into English (probably from Spanish) in the 19th century: https://www.etymonline.com/word/caca

Cac is the Irish for shit or excrement. There is nothing figurative about it. As Douglas Harper says, this is an ancient Indo-European word that is found in dozens of languages throughout Europe and Asia. The Spanish for shit is caca, the Irish have cac, cack is used in English dialects in phrases like cack-handed, a cacophony is literally a shitty sound in Greek, and even in Hindi the word khaki means dust-coloured or shit-coloured. Cassidy’s claim that the Irish cac is a borrowing from the Latin caco is also nonsense. Anyone with the most basic knowledge of historical linguistics would realise this.

In other words, there is absolutely no evidence that the English caca came from the genitive of Irish cac.