Tag Archives: skinny

Cassidese Glossary – Skinny

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 skinny is a slang term meaning ‘the inside knowledge’. It is an American expression and is apparently first found in print in the 1950s. There is no agreement as to its derivation.

According to Daniel Cassidy, this is really an Irish expression, sceitheanna [pronounced shkeh-anna] which according to him is an alternative version of the word sceith, which he defines as ‘(act of) spewing; giving away; divulging (a secret).’ In fact, sceitheanna is the plural form of sceith, not an alternative version.

According to WinGléacht (the electronic version of Ó Dónaill), sceith (as a noun) means 1. vomit; 2 spawning; 3 overflow, discharge, eruption, spreading; 4 disintegration; 5 sceith aincise, quinsy. Sceith the verb has additional meanings of divulging or giving away information, as in sceitheann meisce mírún (drunkenness gives away evil intent – not ‘bad secrets’ as Cassidy mistranslates it).

However, there is no evidence of the nouns sceitheanna or even sceith ever having been used anywhere by any Irish speaker to mean ‘inside information’ or ‘the latest news.’ You will find sceitheanna on Google, but all the references to leaks are to physical leaks (of water, gas) or discharges of things like sewage, not inside knowledge.