Tag Archives: slang origins

The Big Bad Wolof

The other day, I came across a comment which Cassidy wrote on the Daltaí Boards in 2005. It shows plainly what a worthless, whining, self-righteous dimwit Daniel Cassidy was. Here’s Cassidy’s post, interspersed with my comments:

Terence Patrick Dolan, in his Dictionary of Hiberno English claims that smithereens and kabosh are not Irish.

He is an English professor at UCD.

Here, of course, we are being invited to sympathise with Cassidy and regard Dolan, the ‘establishment’ academic, as a fool (even though Cassidy quoted Dolan as an authority long after this, when the book was published). However, as soon as Cassidy posted this, another member of the site with the username Daisy challenged him. He was distorting the facts. Dolan mentions the proximate origin of smidiríní and the word smiodar but he (rightly) is unsure whether the word smiodar is originally a loanword from English. It certainly looks like it’s from smith and therefore of Germanic rather than Celtic origin. And kybosh, as we’ve discussed before, almost certainly isn’t of Irish origin.

When I suggested that glom, which is NY slang meaning to grab, might be derived from the Irish word gla/m I was laughed off the American Dialect Society website. They have a sarcastic motto…if any word is origin unknown they say it must be “Wolof or Irish.” It is meant to be a joke, since the assumtpion is that there are no Wolof or Irish words in English and American speech.

Again, this shows what a useless, lazy, incompetent little twit Cassidy was. Glom is ultimately from Scottish Gaelic glàm, via Lowland Scots glaum. All the dictionaries agree on this. It isn’t New York slang and it doesn’t derive from an undercurrent of Irish below the surface of American society. It is irrelevant to his thesis. As for the ‘sarcastic motto’ about Wolof and Irish, it’s quite possible that people used ‘Wolof and Irish’ when addressing Cassidy and his arrogant bullshit. But the real phrase, known to linguists the world over, is ‘to cry Wolof.’ This is a jocular reference to ‘crying wolf’, and it means that someone is using the evidence of obscure languages to prove a point so that few scholars will be able to follow them. In a sense, Cassidy was crying Wolof, because there are relatively few linguists out there with Irish. If Cassidy had been claiming a massive influence from Russian or German in English, he would have been outed as a liar immediately. He was able to hide behind the obscurity of a language which relatively few people speak (Cassidy certainly didn’t speak any Irish, as I’ll demonstrate below).

I suggested ward “heeler” might be from éilitheoir and slugger might be from “slacaire” (a batter, a mauler) and brag from bréag and these etymologies were utterly dismissed in a blizzard of hostility on the ADS-LIst.

But what d’ye expect from a pig but a…grunt?

What indeed would you expect from a pig but a grunt? This is so typical of the lying bullshit Cassidy tried to use to fool the public in his insane book. A word which means claimant or plaintiff and is pronounced aylihore is a better source for a politician’s helper than the English heel + er? To me heel + er makes perfect sense, because he walked at the politician’s heel or brought his supporters to heel. What about slugger? Why wouldn’t it be slacker if it came from slacaire? And what about other possible origins? What about schläger in German, which means a hitter or a bat, or a cognate in Swedish or Dutch or English dialect? As for bréag, it’s quite obvious why the people from the ADS-List thought Cassidy was a time-wasting crank. The words brag and bost (brag and boast) are found together as a phrase in English within a generation of the Black Death in the 14th century. If brag is so ancient in English, how can it have anything to do with Irish, or with American slang? And bréag doesn’t mean a boast, it means a lie, which isn’t the same thing.

To think that ten million Irish people came to North America over 500 years — at least 60% of whom were Irish speakers — and left no lexical imprint on the vernacular is a counter-intuitive impossibility. But in American and English scholarly discourse and among ALL DICTIONARY EDITORS in 2005 it is the Iron Law of English linguistic neo-orthodoxy.

Again, most American dictionary editors are “more English than the English…”

Again, in this case Cassidy is trying to lead people into a morass of ignorance (and it’s amazing how many people have been more than willing to follow him into it!) Yes, lots of Irish speakers went to the States down the years but the words ‘counter-intuitive impossibility’ are just more of Cassidy’s self-serving crap. Why is it so counter-intuitive that Irish would leave little trace? There are millions of people of Indian and Pakistani origin in England. How many Hindi or Urdu words are used in English slang (apart from words that date back to the Raj like blighty?) I can’t think of any. The point being, the borrowing of vocabulary depends on lots of different factors. Cassidy failed utterly to demonstrate the influence of Irish on English. I’ve just shown that with Cassidy’s examples above. Cassidy didn’t provide evidence, or research properly, or give references. He just stated that there was a phrase similar to something in English and in most cases, like baloney and béal ónna or crony and comhroghna, his ‘Irish’ candidates were simply nonsense he had just made up and didn’t exist in Irish at all! Then, to protect himself from criticism, he pretended that the academics were all involved in some pro-English conspiracy! In the years since I started CassidySlangScam, I have repeatedly challenged his supporters to provide the proof that he didn’t. Not one of them has ever done so and not one of them ever will, because the evidence simply doesn’t exist.

So at this point all agree that every ethnic group in America has contributed to the hybrid vernacular tongue that created our culture but…the Irish.

Gaeilge dofheicthe agus balbh, covered over with a shroud of “whiteness.”

What a total and utter cretin! The Irish have contributed to American English, with a handful of words and a few idioms which have been translated like ‘to hit the road.’ But have other groups like the Germans or the French or the Swedish really contributed a lot more than the Irish? No, they haven’t. German has contributed loads of words for philosophical or culinary concepts but ordinary ‘street’ words of German origin like keister and spiel are a mere handful. Even less in the case of Swedish. There are a few slang words from French like craps and dime but again, we’re talking about a handful. (Leaving aside the huge numbers of French words borrowed into English from the Middle Ages onwards, which are completely irrelevant to Cassidy’s argument.) Cassidy is just lying and distorting the truth when he writes this – as usual.

As for Gaeilge dofheicthe agus balbh, covered over with a shroud of “whiteness” … This just shows that Cassidy didn’t give a toss about our language. He thinks he’s saying ‘Invisible and dumb Irish language’ – whatever that means. (Unseen and unheard, perhaps?) But Gaeilge is a feminine noun, so it would have to be dhofheicthe and bhalbh, and then again, when you have two adjectives together after a noun you don’t put and in as you do in English, so it would be Gaeilge dhofheicthe bhalbh. Even if you correct the grammar like this, it still sounds like shite. A real Irish speaker might say something like “Rinneadh neamart sa Ghaeilge agus fágadh gan ghuth í.” (The Irish language was neglected and left without a voice.) Or dozens of other things but they would say it in a way that genuinely works in Irish. Cassidy had no understanding of this because he didn’t know any Irish.

As for the nonsense about ‘whiteness’, this is typical of Cassidy’s fake radicalism. Cassidy was a pompous nobody with no qualifications, a thief and a liar and a charlatan. He had absolutely no right to appoint himself a spokesperson for the Irish diaspora, and anyone who supports him is either a liar or a nut-job or a fool. Take your pick.

Three Kinds of Lies

There are three principal kinds of lies among the ‘etymologies’ in Cassidy’s ridiculous book How The Irish Invented Slang.


As we have said before, there are many entries in Cassidy’s book which are plagiarised. Dozens of expressions were already in the public domain before they appeared in Cassidy’s book (though most of these are also fanciful and unlikely to be correct.)  In most cases, the Great Fraud didn’t acknowledge where he got them. Examples: longshoreman from loingseoir, ballyhoo from bailiú, snazzy from snas, smashing from is maith sin, slug from slog, etc.

Single words

In many cases, Cassidy found individual words in English and English slang. He then hit the Irish dictionaries and tried to find words which were a vague match for his English words. So, suppose Cassidy had decided that the term to drink a toast to someone doesn’t have anything to do with toasted bread. So he hits the dictionary and finds the word tost, meaning silence. Well, you propose a toast and of course, everyone is silent while they’re drinking. So it’s from the Irish tost meaning silence.

However, Cassidy often changed his story. (Slum was originally from saol lom, according to Cassidy but in the book it’s from ‘s lom é.) So, suppose he was looking through a dictionary and happened to notice the word tóstal, meaning assembly, muster, array or pageant. And suppose Cassidy decided that this, not tost, is a better origin of toast. So, he writes a ‘dictionary definition’:

tóstal – assembly, muster, pageant; a public display (of respect etc.)

and then adds a few dictionary references, so that a casual observer might assume that this was taken verbatim from a dictionary. Of course, the really impressive bit, about the public display of respect, would be a complete fiction invented in California by a man who didn’t speak any Irish. (In reality, I made this example up using Cassidy’s ‘methodology.’)


Of course, if Cassidy had been restricted to plagiarism and words which accidentally have a phonetic similarity and some similarity of meaning, his book would have been little more than a pamphlet. Most of his ‘etymologies’ were phrases.

Here’s how it works. Cassidy finds the word bamboozle and decides it must be Irish. So, he hits the Irish dictionaries and looks for something that corresponds to it. Of course, there’s no suitable Irish word. So, this pretentious dimwit – who doesn’t speak any Irish at all – cobbles together a ‘well-known phrase’ in Irish. First, he finds the word bamba, which means tiresomeness or frustration. So far, so good. But what about the oozle? So, he looks in the dictionary and finds uasal, which means noble, but also has a subsidiary meaning of ‘fairy’. Great! In ‘Irish’, bamba uasal is a phrase meaning frustrated by the fairies, thwarted by supernatural forces.

Of course, it doesn’t mean that. It doesn’t exist. I just made it up ten minutes ago as an example of how Cassidy’s mind didn’t work. There are hundreds of similar expressions in Cassidy’s book: uath dubh; gus óil; gruaim béil; gearr-ól úr etc. etc.

I note with great sadness that people are still spreading this nonsense. For example, a couple of weeks ago, someone called Glopweiller (or Daniel Patrick Galvi) put a reference to Cassidy’s dumbass theory about the origins of dude on Twitter. There is a lot of talk at the moment about the post-truth world we live in. The fact is, it’s only post-truth if we decide to let that happen, by ignoring the facts and not checking them. I suggest we make that an additional New Year’s resolution – to check every fact, however trivial, before passing it on and contributing to the morass of ignorance out there.

The English For Comhar

I recently criticised the claim made by Daniel Cassidy and perpetuated by some of his apprentices in idiocy that the word comhar is of central importance in Irish culture and language and that it is ‘a long-standing ideal of cooperative society’.

By a strange coincidence, someone asked me the other day to find out where bee comes from, as in a sewing or spelling bee. It turns out that bee is thought to be a corruption of been or bean, an English dialect word meaning a favour or a gathering of people to help out a neighbour. It suddenly struck me – BEAN OR BEEN IS THE ENGLISH FOR COMHAR!

In other words, it must be a central concept of Anglophone culture, a long-standing ideal of a cooperative society! I’m so excited at having made this major anthropological discovery just by clicking a mouse a couple of times.

I am beginning to see the appeal of Cassidy’s methods. It’s so much easier to make major discoveries when you don’t have to do any work or present any evidence! Brilliant! Remember, you heard it here first …


(Just in case anyone has stopped by here without understanding the context of the blog, let me make it quite clear that I am being sarcastic here!)



I was thinking the other day that I have been neglecting the drossary side of things recently. Although it is important to comment on the Cassidy scandal and the morons who support this obvious fraud, I started this blog with the primary intention of providing the facts where Cassidy provided lies.

One of the most obviously fraudulent of Cassidy’s claims is the one about noogie. Noogie is an American term, first recorded in the 1960s. It refers to a kind of playground punishment, where a child grabs another in a head-lock and then rubs their victim’s scalp with the knuckles.

Cassidy’s claim is that the basic phrase is not noogie but ‘a noogie’, which is why he put it under A rather than N. There is no logical reason for this, apart from the fact that Cassidy’s Irish candidate for the origin of noogy starts with an a. It’s the word aonóg.

Firstly, aonóg would be pronounced eynohg or oonohg. This doesn’t sound much like ‘a noogie’, never mind noogie on its own. Secondly, it is an incredibly obscure word. The usual Irish term for a nip or pinch is liomóg. Aonóg is not given in Ó Dónaill’s dictionary, though it is given in Dinneen, where it says it is ‘a nip, a pinch’, and that it is a local term from County Monaghan.

Let’s just compare this to Cassidy’s version. He doesn’t mention County Monaghan. He says that aonóg is ‘a nip, a pinch, a little whack, fig. affectionate, rough-house play.’  It’s important to look closely at the differences here, as they demonstrate clearly what a dishonest scumbag Cassidy was. Most of this definition (‘a little whack, fig. affectionate, rough-house play.’) was invented by Cassidy. What gave this liar the right to make up a new definition and pass it off as the truth? Is a little whack the same as a nip? Is a nip ‘affectionate, rough-house play?’ Admittedly, nipping someone might be part of rough-house play but they aren’t the same thing, in English or in Irish.

Back in the real world, far away from Daniel Cassidy’s compulsive lying, there are several theories about the origins of noogie. The strongest contender is that it is a corruption of knuckle, on the analogy of words like wedgie. Others link it to the Yiddish נודזשען ‎(nudzhen, “to badger”). Whatever the real origin, aonóg is not a good candidate in terms of phonetics or meaning and it would never have been a common word among Irish speakers, otherwise it would have left a far stronger trace in the dictionaries and glossaries.