Tag Archives: language


I was thinking the other day that I have been neglecting the drossary side of things recently. Although it is important to comment on the Cassidy scandal and the morons who support this obvious fraud, I started this blog with the primary intention of providing the facts where Cassidy provided lies.

One of the most obviously fraudulent of Cassidy’s claims is the one about noogie. Noogie is an American term, first recorded in the 1960s. It refers to a kind of playground punishment, where a child grabs another in a head-lock and then rubs their victim’s scalp with the knuckles.

Cassidy’s claim is that the basic phrase is not noogie but ‘a noogie’, which is why he put it under A rather than N. There is no logical reason for this, apart from the fact that Cassidy’s Irish candidate for the origin of noogy starts with an a. It’s the word aonóg.

Firstly, aonóg would be pronounced eynohg or oonohg. This doesn’t sound much like ‘a noogie’, never mind noogie on its own. Secondly, it is an incredibly obscure word. The usual Irish term for a nip or pinch is liomóg. Aonóg is not given in Ó Dónaill’s dictionary, though it is given in Dinneen, where it says it is ‘a nip, a pinch’, and that it is a local term from County Monaghan.

Let’s just compare this to Cassidy’s version. He doesn’t mention County Monaghan. He says that aonóg is ‘a nip, a pinch, a little whack, fig. affectionate, rough-house play.’  It’s important to look closely at the differences here, as they demonstrate clearly what a dishonest scumbag Cassidy was. Most of this definition (‘a little whack, fig. affectionate, rough-house play.’) was invented by Cassidy. What gave this liar the right to make up a new definition and pass it off as the truth? Is a little whack the same as a nip? Is a nip ‘affectionate, rough-house play?’ Admittedly, nipping someone might be part of rough-house play but they aren’t the same thing, in English or in Irish.

Back in the real world, far away from Daniel Cassidy’s compulsive lying, there are several theories about the origins of noogie. The strongest contender is that it is a corruption of knuckle, on the analogy of words like wedgie. Others link it to the Yiddish נודזשען ‎(nudzhen, “to badger”). Whatever the real origin, aonóg is not a good candidate in terms of phonetics or meaning and it would never have been a common word among Irish speakers, otherwise it would have left a far stronger trace in the dictionaries and glossaries.

Grant Barrett

Some people come out of the Cassidy affair very badly, while others come out of it very well. One of those who deserves special mention for consistently challenging Cassidy’s nonsense is Grant Barrett. Here is a short post from Barrett’s blog http://grantbarrett.com/crank-etymologist:

Crank Etymologist

Thinking phonetic similarities between words prove origin or relation is a common mistake of amateur etymologists, as in this junk etymology, where the author, a known crank who favors simplistic and unverified Irish origins for a variety of English words—because he thinks American and English lexicographers have an anti-Irish bias—posits that bunkum comes from a buanchumadh, an Irish-Gaelic word he says means “perpetual invention, endless composition (of a story, poem, or song), a long made-up story, fig. a shaggy dog tale.” Of course, he provides no written citations of the word in English-language contexts. He’s got bupkus to prove his claim.

The author, Daniel Cassidy, used to post his rubbish to the email list of the American Dialect Society, but when his rickety logic and dubious scholarship couldn’t withstand the scrutiny of interested scholars and dilettantes, he took his quackery other places to people who don’t know any better.

Posted July 3, 2006

On a different forum, http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/forums/viewthread/663/, Barrett was attacked by Cassidy (under a false ‘sockpuppet’ identity)  for having the temerity to pour scorn on Cassidy’s fake derivations:

“Barrett’s quote ‘s cam e (it is a fraud, a trick). Barrett the Parrott also claims to be Irish. So what. So is Ian Paisley. As to Munster derivations, Glencolumcille is in Donegal and Cassidy’s grandparent’s spoke Donegal Irish.  Barrett the Parrott is an Anglophile hack whose boring books are in the  basement of Amazon.com and in the remainder baskets of most bookstores. Before you believe a focal (word) out of  Grant Parrots’ gob ( beak, mouth), check out these reviews. Barret the Parrot had better kiss the toin (buttocks) of his publishers at Oxford. With his books down around 270,000 and 600,000 on Amazon, whereas Cassidy’s book is in 5th reprint in 7 months and just won an American Book Award.

Is it a twerp (duirb, a worm)? Is it a dork (dorc, a dwarf)? Or is it Barrett the Parrot? No it’s “Superscam” (aka Barret the English  Parrott) and his phoney made-up quotes.

Here are REAL QUOTES that haven’t been hahahahaha deleted hahahahahahaha.

Believe Barrett the Parrott (AKA Superscam) or Dr. Joe Lee, who is a native Irish speaker and the Director of Irish Studies at NYU? Professor Lee is one of the foremost scholars in the field of Irish Studies in the US and Ireland.”

Cassidy then goes on to reel off a favourable comment from Joe Lee about Cassidy’s book. Why Joe Lee (an Irish speaker) chose to support this ridiculous book when he must have known that it is packed full of nonsense is between him and his conscience. People like Barrett come out of this well because they stood up for the truth, the facts, and the right of ordinary people not to be conned by cranks like Cassidy. They deserve our support, our respect and our thanks.