Tag Archives: nincompoop

Cassidese Glossary – Ninny

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 etymological hoax, How The Irish Invented Slang, Daniel Cassidy claimed that the word Ninny, meaning a fool, comes from the Irish naoidheanach, a variant of the word naíonda, meaning infantile or childish. In fact, words related to the word naíonán (child, infant) tend to be positive, not negative, so there is no record of naíonán being used to mean a fool.

Furthermore, naoidheanach (modern naíonda) doesn’t sound much like ninny (the vowel is long, for a start). Also, it is generally accepted that ninny is a shortened version of the English word innocent (aN INNocent), which was used as a noun for a simple person in 16th century English.

Nincompoop

This is another really stupid Cassidy suggestion. He claims that the word nincompoop comes from the Irish naioidhean ar chuma búb, which he says is pronounced neeyan [er] um boob and (again, according to him) means “a baby in the shape of a blubbering boob.”

Let’s examine this claim carefully. Firstly, does the ‘Irish’ phrase sound like nincompoop? Not much. Is there any evidence of anyone ever using this expression before Cassidy? No, of course there isn’t. Is it likely that anyone would use it? Think about it. Insults need to be clever or punchy. They need to be effective as ways of putting someone in their place, which is why you very rarely find people saying things like “He is a man who seems to have the appearance of a dolt.” If you want to insult someone, you simply call them a dolt. Because of this, the chances of Cassidy’s claim being correct are vanishingly slight.

Although we don’t have any solid evidence about the real origin of nincompoop, there is nothing to suggest that it comes from Irish. It is first found in English in the 1670s. Some dictionaries conjecture that it probably comes from the phrase non compos mentis (a legal formula meaning not of sound mind). Others dispute this. But Cassidy’s ridiculous suggestion is just another confirmation that he was far from compos mentis himself.

 

Seo tuairim bhómánta eile de chuid Cassidy. Maíonn sé go dtagann an focal Béarla nincompoop ón ‘Ghaeilge’ naioidhean ar chuma búb. Dar leisean, ciallaíonn an bolgam gránna seo “a baby in the shape of a blubbering boob.”

Tá an teoiric seo gan bhunús, ar ndóigh. Níl an frása ‘Gaeilge’ seo cosúil le nincompoop an Bhéarla ar chor ar bith. Agus ní gá dom a rá nach bhfuil fianaise ar bith ann gur bhain duine ar bith úsáid as ‘naíon ar chuma búib’ riamh. Ní dócha go mbainfeadh duine ar bith úsáid as, ach oiread. Caithfidh maslaí bheith cliste, gonta. Ní mór dóibh bheith éifeachtach mar dhóigh le duine a chur ina áit. Sin an fáth nach ndeirtear ‘Is duine é a bhfuil cosúlacht an bhómáin air.’ Más maith leat duine a mhaslú, déarfaidh tú gur bómán é, gan fiacail a chur ann. Agus sin an fáth nach bhfuil ciall ar bith leis an raiméis bhréag-Ghaelach a chum Cassidy faoin fhocal seo.

Cé nach bhfuil aon fhianaise chruinn againn maidir le bunús fíor an fhocail nincompoop, níl fianaise ar bith ann gur Gaeilge é, ná go bhfuil baint ar bith ag an fhocal le hÉirinn. Fuarthas é sa Bhéarla den chéad uair sna 1670í. Tá barúil ag cuid de na foclóirí gur leagan as a riocht é den fhrása dlí Laidine non compos mentis (a chiallaíonn nach bhfuil duine ina chiall cheart). Tá daoine eile ar a mhalairt de thuairim. Ach is ábhar gáire é míniú Cassidy, agus cruthaíonn sé nach raibh Cassidy féin ina chiall cheart.

Nincompoop

This is another really stupid Cassidy suggestion. He claims that the word nincompoop comes from the Irish naioidhean ar chuma búb, which he says is pronounced neeyan [er] um boob and (again, according to him) means “a baby in the shape of a blubbering boob.”

Let’s examine this claim carefully. Firstly, does the ‘Irish’ phrase sound like nincompoop? Not much. Is there any evidence of anyone ever using this expression before Cassidy? No, of course there isn’t. Is it likely that anyone would use it? Think about it. Insults need to be clever or punchy. They need to be effective as ways of putting someone in their place, which is why you very rarely find people saying things like “He is a man who seems to have the appearance of a dolt.” If you want to insult someone, you simply call them a dolt. Because of this, the chances of Cassidy’s claim being correct are vanishingly slight.

Although we don’t have any solid evidence about the real origin of nincompoop, there is nothing to suggest that it comes from Irish. It is first found in English in the 1670s. Some dictionaries conjecture that it probably comes from the phrase non compos mentis (a legal formula meaning not of sound mind). Others dispute this. But Cassidy’s ridiculous suggestion is just another confirmation that he was far from compos mentis himself.