Tag Archives: geanc

Cassidese Glossary – Kinker

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 kinker, according to the late Daniel Cassidy in his work of false etymologies, How The Irish Invented Slang, is a slang term for a circus performer or a circus act. However, he also implies that kinkers were surly, rude or snooty.

Kinkers, adj., surly, rude; fig. snooty person) were the stuck up stars of the circus.

Ingeniously, he manages to find a quote from Jim Tully’s Circus Parade (1927) to back him up in this claim.

The performers were more snobbish than any class of people I have ever known. They did not talk to the lesser gentry of the circus save only to give commands. They were known as the ‘kinkers’ to us.

Cassidy needs to emphasise this snobbishness because his candidate for the origin of kinker is the Irish geancach, which means a person with an upturned nose (geanc) or a snooty person. (Cassidy only mentions the secondary meaning.)

Kinker doesn’t sound much like geancach, of course, and geancach certainly isn’t the origin of the circus slang word. How do I know? Well, when you look up kinker on line, all becomes clear. Kinkers weren’t just circus performers. Kinkers were acrobats or contortionists. If you think of all the contorted and twisted and crooked meanings of the word kink in English, the word kinker is self-explanatory.

Cassidese Glossary – Gink

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.

Gink seems to be an American slang term for an idiot or just for an ordinary bloke or man. It first appears around the early 20th century and is probably related to words like geek.

Cassidy claims it comes from a complex of words related to the meaning ‘snub nose’. Here is Cassidy’s multi-word, multi-meaning definition:

Geanc, geannc, geancaire, n., a snub-nose; a short-faced surly person; a homely snub-nosed person; a crooked dumpy-looking person; one of the lower and more vicious kinds of fairies, a leprechaun.

In reality, of course, geanc (pronounced gyank) means a snub-nose. It cannot be used of a person. A geancaire or geancachán or geancán can mean a snub-nosed person, while the fairy definition above is the definition of geanncanach from Dinneen’s dictionary.

In short, there is no word similar to gink that means a person and the various offshoot words of geanc are so dissimilar from the meanings of gink that there is no reason to suppose any connection.

Kinker

As we’ve said before, there is almost nothing of any value in Daniel Cassidy’s absurd work of pseudo-scholarship, How The Irish Invented Slang. Some of his claims are just stupid, many of them are mad, and some of them are just plain dishonest. This is one of the dishonest claims.

The word kinker, according to Cassidy, is a slang term for a circus performer or a circus act. However, he also implies that kinkers were surly, rude or snooty.

Kinkers, adj., surly, rude; fig. snooty person) were the stuck up stars of the circus.

Ingeniously, he manages to find a quote from Jim Tully’s Circus Parade (1927) to back him up. He was certainly a dab hand at making fake connections and finding clever angles:

The performers were more snobbish than any class of people I have ever known. They did not talk to the lesser gentry of the circus save only to give commands. They were known as the ‘kinkers’ to us.

He needs to emphasise this snobbishness because his candidate for the origin of kinker is the Irish geancach, which means a person with an upturned nose (geanc) or a snooty person. (Cassidy only mentions the secondary meaning.)

Kinker doesn’t sound much like geancach, of course, and geancach certainly isn’t the origin of the circus slang word. How do I know? Well, when you look up kinker on line, all becomes clear. Kinkers weren’t just circus performers. Kinkers were acrobats or contortionists. If you think of all the contorted and twisted and crooked meanings of the word kink in English, kinker is self-explanatory.

How did Cassidy miss this? Call me a cynic, but I don’t think he did miss it – I think he missed it out. He did this because he was a liar. His book is not about discovering the truth. It’s about conning suckers.