Tag Archives: made-up Irish

Cassidese Glossary – Crony

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.

Another oft-quoted claim of Cassidy’s, which has absolutely no basis in fact, is the notion that crony can be traced back to an Irish phrase comh-roghna. Cassidy says that this word means “fellow chosen-ones, mutual-sweethearts, fellow favourites, close friends, mutual pals”.

This is totally false. While comh– exists and rogha/roghanna (roghna is the older version of the plural of rogha, roghanna the modern spelling) exist there is no evidence in the Irish language of either roghanna or comhroghanna being used to mean friends or pals.

The words comhrogha and comhroghanna are not even in Ó Dónaill’s dictionary, though the word comhrogha has been used sporadically in the language to express the abstract senses of rival, alternative or choice.

Here are some examples of the use of comhrogha from the Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language:

murab comhrogha leo maraon = unless it would be the joint choice of both of them

atáid dhá theach má [sic] comhrogha = they are two houses to be chosen between (i.e. heaven and hell

níl le do chlú comhrogha = your reputation has no rival

dá gcur i gcomhrogha = being compared

dá gcuirfí i gcomhrogha a bháis nó = if it was a matter of alternatives of death or martyrdom

an comhrogha thuas = the preceding example (comparison of two couplets, Bardic syntactic tracts

agus de chomhroghna curadh = and of the finest of warriors

The word comhrogha has also been used occasionally in modern Irish in general contexts to mean alternative, in financial and economic contexts to mean ‘joint option’ and in betting to mean ‘popular favourite’.

It should also be pointed out that comhroghanna (koh-ray-anna) doesn’t sound much like croney and it is plural – loanwords tend to be borrowed in their most basic, singular form.

Back in the real world, crony is widely believed to be Cambridge university slang, derived from Greek chronios, meaning long-lasting, as in ‘old boy’. It first occurs in Samuel Pepys’s diaries and Pepys was a Cambridge graduate.


The liar Daniel Cassidy, in his ridiculous attempt to ‘queer the pitch’ of Irish linguistics, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that the word queer was of Irish origin.  

As usual with Cassidy’s claims, this is fanciful, childish nonsense. The word queer is first recorded in English about 1500. It is thought to be derived from Scots and to be a cognate of the German quer, which means ‘oblique, perverse, odd’. It acquired the modern meaning (originally pejorative but now reclaimed by gay and lesbian activists) of ‘gay’ in the 20th century.

Cassidy derives it from the Irish word corr, meaning odd. The problem is that corr doesn’t sound anything like queer. It is pronounced kor or kore. 

This is just another bit of stupid made-up nonsense from the pole-nosed Pinocchio of Irish Studies.

Gunga Din

This book has been given many favourable reviews on Amazon, on Google.books and on other forums online. Some of the favourable reviewers have referred to the fact that Cassidy ‘overreaches’, which means that a certain proportion of his work is untrustworthy, or wrong, or just plain crazy. This apparently doesn’t worry them and they don’t regard it as a sign that the whole project is toxic and not to be taken seriously.

Personally, I find this strange. OK, you have to give people some leeway. I don’t expect everything in a book to be right. Even in very academic books you come across facts which you know to be untrue – dates incorrect, misspellings, interpretations of facts which are controversial or wrong. To err is human and you expect a certain number of mistakes in any work. But the margin of error has to be realistic. Would you buy a cookery book or a history book where fifty percent of the recipes or dates were incorrect?

In Cassidy’s book, the level of error is considerably higher. There is almost nothing of any value in How The Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads. To understand how bad this book is, you really need some knowledge of the Irish language but even with an ounce of common sense and a knowledge of English, it should be obvious that many of Cassidy’s claims are crazy.

Take this one. 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, it 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 idea that Gunga Din is Irish, rather than Kipling’s version of Hindi or Bengali, is so mad that I am gobsmacked that anyone would be daft enough to believe it.