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.
The words buddy and bud are found in English from the middle of the 19th century. The most common explanation is that these words are childish versions of the word brother. However, it’s a little more complicated than that. There is a word found in the 19th century English dialects of England, the word “butty”. Apparently, this term derives from the word booty. A booty-fellow was a person who joined you on a journey or venture and shared the profit with you. Other people link it to the word ‘body’ in Scots or Lallans. Others think it is an acronym from the period of the American Civil War, which means Brother Until Death (linguists will tell you that most acronym-based etymologies are nonsense). Or that it is from the Raj and the Pashto word ‘badda’, which means a partner. Or from the word boetie in Dutch which comes from broer, meaning brother.
Daniel Cassidy, in his book How The Irish Invented Slang, says that the English buddy comes from the Irish bodach. He says that bodach means “a strong, lusty youth.” I don’t know where he got that definition, because according to the dictionaries, bodach means “a churl, a clown, a tramp”. (It’s another word, bodalach, which means “strong, lusty youth.”) Not only that, but if bodach were used with the same meaning as buddy, it wouldn’t sound the same as buddy in English. (Bodach is pronounced roughly bodda, while the vocative a bhodaigh is pronounced a woddy.) In fact, the claim of a connection between bodach and buddy predates Cassidy. It seems to have been suggested first by Robert McCrum in 1986.