Tag Archives: How The Irish Invented Slang

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.

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Cassidese Glossary – Gunga Din

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.

Gunga Din, according to Cassidy, is Irish. To the rest of us, it represents an Indian name used in a famous poem by the arch-imperialist Kipling, but to Cassidy, Kipling was merely using a nickname given by Irish soldiers to an Indian water-carrier. That nickname, according to Cassidy, means “Skinny-arse, quickly!”

There is actually an obscure word gúngaire, which comes from gúnga meaning haunches or hunkers and which means something like skinny-arse. But dian means intense or hard. It doesn’t mean quick. You wouldn’t say “Go dian!” to someone if you want them to do something quickly. As usual, this is just a piece of Cassidese, a confection constructed by a fantasist because of random phonetic similarities.

And what evidence is there that Kipling was influenced by Irish? What evidence is there that it existed before Kipling made it up? The narrator of Gunga Din is an English soldier (this is clear from the way his dialect is written). Gunga Din is the Indian servant’s name, and he is often referred to just as Din. The name is probably not genuine, though some scholars have pointed out that Gunga is a Hindi version of the name of the Ganges, while Din is a Muslim surname, meaning ‘faith’. In other words, it’s probably a composite Indian name invented by Kipling, neither Muslim nor Hindu.

However, the idea that Gunga Din is Irish, rather than Kipling’s version of Hindi or Bengali, is so insane that I am amazed anyone would be stupid enough to believe it.

Cassidese Glossary – Gump

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 Cassidy, the word gump, meaning chicken, comes from the Irish word colm, pronounced collum. This doesn’t mean a chicken – it means a dove or pigeon – but according to Cassidy it would be used ‘figuratively’ for a chicken. He cites no sources for this opinion and gives no evidence at all but in any case, the two words are so unlike each other in sound and in meaning that this can be dismissed immediately as nonsense.

Not only that but the term gump was used to mean an idiot (especially female) for nearly a century before it was first applied to a chicken.

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 – Growler

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 growler was a bucket of beer in the slums of New York. People were sent out to fill the bucket with beer and they carried it home covered with a tin lid. Because the fizzy beer gave off gas, the lid rattled continually and this was the growling.

Daniel Cassidy ignored this reasonable explanation. According to him, growler represents gearr-ól úr, meaning ‘a fresh, short drink’. This is incredibly contrived and totally improbable, especially as the real, English etymology is well-known.

Cassidese Glossary – Ground Sweat

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.

We have already dealt with this above. Cassidy’s explanation is that it comes from grian suite, which he claims means ‘a sunny site, a sunny spot; fig. a gravesite.’

Grian suite makes no sense in terms of Irish grammar, as it would mean ‘of a sunny site’ (genitives cannot stand along in Irish) or ‘sun-situated’, in which case it would have to be one word. There is no evidence of sunny site or any similar phrase being used for a grave in Irish or in Ireland. This seems to be based on American cemetery names like Sunnylands – if it’s based on anything at all.

In fact, a ground sweat refers to the liquefaction of the body in the grave.