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.
(See the articles on Racket above.) The development of this term seems to be that racket as in to make a sound (especially used as a distraction for criminal activity) became linked to words like rack (to put someone on the rack) and rack-renting (to extort rent from someone) and thus a racket came to mean a criminal enterprise. This then gave rise to racketeer as a word for people who run rackets. Cassidy ransacks dictionaries looking for obscure Irish and Gaelic terms like reacaire which means a seller and ragaire which in one obscure reference (primarily to Scottish Gaelic) also meant an ‘extortioner’, according to Dinneen. The word reacadóir (an alternative form of reacaire which sounds a little like racketeer) does not mean ‘extortioner’, in spite of what Cassidy says.