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.
Plunge is apparently a hobo slang term for a hobo’s stash of money (according to Cassidy) and he also says that to make a plunge means to make a pittance through begging. I can’t find any confirmation of the first meaning, though I did find the phrase ‘a gut plunge’ which apparently meant to beg meat off a butcher for your Mulligan stew. In other words, plunge may not have the meaning that Cassidy ascribed to it at all.
However, it happened, I think it’s a fair bet that plunge is an extension of the English word plunge, which comes from Old French plongier meaning to thrust down. According to Cassidy, this is not correct and plunge represents the ‘Irish’ bail ainnis. This is not a real Irish expression, of course, and it makes little sense. Bail means condition, state, or prosperity, but it isn’t used for someone’s personal fortune or stash. That would be a word like taisce. Even if this phrase did exist, it would be a phrase of three syllables, while plunge is a word of one syllable. Cassidy’s claim is basically just a piece of unintelligent, random guesswork and is certainly incorrect.