Tag Archives: slab

Cassidese Glossary – Slop

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.

Daniel Cassidy, in his work of false etymologies, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that the English terms slop and sloppy are of Irish origin. He claims that they are linked either to slab, (the origin of slob in sloblands) or to words like slapach or slapaire, meaning slovenly or a slovenly person. McKinnon’s Gaelic etymological dictionary makes it quite clear that slab comes from the Norse word slab, while slapaire comes from the Norse word slapr, meaning a slovenly person. In other words, they are two separate words with separate origins, so Cassidy’s claim is illogical.

However, the claim is also nonsense for another reason. Cassidy says that:

Anglo-American dictionaries derive the words slop and sloppy from Old English cūsloppe for cow dung. The word sloppy does not appear in English vernacular until the 19th century. (Barnhart, 1019.)

This is nonsense. No English or American English dictionary derives slop and sloppy from the word cūsloppe. The word slop is quite ancient in English and is found around the year 1400 with the meaning of mudhole. This in turn probably derives from an Old English word sloppe meaning dung but this element is not found on its own. It is only found in one compound word, the plant name cūsloppe which is the origin of modern English cowslip and is believed to mean cow dung, probably because the cowslip is found where cattle graze. (The Irish bainne bó bleachtáin means milk of a milking cow and also links the cowslip to cows.) Sloppy dates back to the 18th century but slop goes back a long way in English and has no connection with Irish or Scottish Gaelic.

Cassidese Glossary – Slob

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.

Cassidy points out that the word slob in English probably derives from the Irish slab or slaba, which is defined by Dinneen as:

slab, -aib, m., mud, mire; a soft-fleshed person.

Cassidy says that this is from the Scandinavian word slab (quoting from MacBain’s Gaelic Etymological Dictionary).

There is probably a connection with Anglo-Irish, as Cassidy says, but this claim did not originate with him. For example, the link between slob and Irish slab was made by Loretto Todd in her book, Green English, which came out seven years before Cassidy’s book.

Cassidese Glossary – Slab Town

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.

Daniel Cassidy, in his etymological hoax, claimed that Slab Town, an old nickname for Chicago, was so called because it was situated on muddy ground, which in Ireland would be known as slobland, deriving from Irish slab.

This is one clear case where Cassidy misrepresented his sources. Herbert Asbury, in Gangs of Chicago, says that Chicago was known as Slab Town because of a unique method of construction whereby blocks and sheathboards were laid down in a kind of prefabrication technique. These were the slabs:

“… blocks were laid down singly or in cob-house fashion. On these foundations were laid, and to these were spiked, standing on end, 3×4 scantling. On these sheathboards were nailed, and weatherboards on the outside of them; and lath and plaster inside with the roof completed the store or dwelling.”

It was because of this unique system of building that Chicago received the nickname of Slab Town, by which it was generally known throughout the country except when it was being ridiculed as the Mud Hole of the Prairies.”

Cassidy merely quotes the second part of this:

“It was because of this unique system of building that Chicago received the nickname of Slab Town, by which it was generally known throughout the country except when it was being ridiculed as the Mud Hole of the Prairies.”

This enables him to maintain the pretence that it was known as Slab Town because it was located in a muddy place, even though he presumably read the piece in Asbury’s book and knew what the real origin was as described there.