Tag Archives: slang

Cassidese Glossary – Keister

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.

This seems to be a common expression in America but it is completely unknown in Ireland. It is used to mean ‘bottom’ and seems to be an informal and inoffensive word often used with children. According to Daniel Cassidy in his work of pseudo-etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, this word derives from the Irish word ciste meaning ‘chest, coffer, treasure, fund’. This is nonsense. The Irish word is derived from Latin, either directly or via an Old English borrowing.

The original Latin word is cista, which means a chest or box. This Latin word was also borrowed into German as Kiste, which is pronounced quite like keister. The German expression Kiste has several meanings. One is trunk or case and the other is what you use to sit on a trunk or case, your backside. This is the origin of the word keister in American speech. As I have already said, the term keister is completely unknown in Irish English, and the word ciste does not have the meaning of backside, so Cassidy’s claim is obviously incorrect.

Cassidese Glossary – Jerk

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.

Jerk, a slang term for “tedious and ineffectual person,” first appears in American carnival slang in 1935. Its origin is uncertain, but it possibly derives from jerkwater “petty, inferior, insignificant”. This term goes back to the days of steam trains, when the water for the steam engine needed to be replenished regularly. In small towns, they needed to form a human chain and “jerk” the water (i.e. lift it on a rope) to fill the engine. Thus a small, hick town was known as a jerkwater town. (Some experts say that jerking water refers to a system whereby water was lifted while the train was in motion, but this doesn’t change the basic argument, that jerkwater is a railroad term for an insignificant town). This may have also been influenced by the phrase jerk off, referring (for obvious reasons) to masturbation.

These are the facts. Daniel Cassidy, in his book How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that this word derives from déirceach. Déirc is the Irish for alms and a déirceach can be either a beggar or a person who gives out alms, and Cassidy makes much of the fact that both beggars and charity-givers (many of whom offered starving people food in return for a nominal religious conversion in Ireland) were both regarded as jerks by the Irish. If this were the genuine etymology, this speculation might be of interest, but déirceach is not a common word and especially not in the sense of beggar, which is usually bacach in spoken Irish. There is absolutely no reason to suppose that déirceach is the origin of the American English jerk or has any connection with it.

 

Cassidese Glossary – Jazzy

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 claims that while jazz derives from teas, jazzy derives from the adjectival version teasaí. It seems obvious to me (and to any other sensible human being) that jazzy is simply an English adjectival form derived from jazz, just as a day of rain is a rainy day or a stew with lots of meat is described as meaty. Cassidy frequently did things like this. For example, look at his claims in relation to the supposed link between croak and Irish croch.

Cassidese Glossary – Jake

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.

This is an expression for ‘the best’ or ‘something good’ that first makes its appearance (in American English) in the early twentieth century. There is no agreed etymology. Cassidy, in his book How The Irish Invented Slang, claims that it comes from the Irish deach, which means ‘the best’. There are several problems with this. Firstly, the pronunciation is not at all close. Secondly, this is an archaic expression. It is marked in Ó Dónaill’s dictionary as Lit. – a literary expression. A look through Corpas na Gaeilge shows that there are no uses of this word in the corpus itself after the 17th century. (Later uses of deach, as in Cín Lae Amhlaoibh, are misspellings of other words, such as deich, the Irish for ten.) In other words, it is highly improbable that it would have been known or used by Irish speakers in 19th or early 20th century America, even if it sounded anything like jake.

Cassidese Glossary – Jag (2)

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.

According to the late Daniel Cassidy, jag in the sense of being drunk (to have or get a jag on) is not related to the word jag meaning a load. According to him, it comes from the Irish word deoch, meaning drink (see here for pronunciation: https://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/beverage#beverage__2)

This is very implausible. The most commonly accepted theory is that jag is the same word as jag meaning a load – to have a load on is certainly a reasonable metaphor for drunkenness. As you can see in the link above, deoch does not sound like jag.

Cassidese Glossary – Jag (1)

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.

According to Daniel Cassidy in his work of false etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, the word jag, meaning a load for the back, comes from the Irish word tiach (as, according to him, does the word jack). There is no evidence in favour of this theory.

Jag originally meant a load of furze or whin, then later came to be a general term for a load: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/jag

Cassidese Glossary – Jack-roll

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.

This was originally a term for the act of robbing a drunk. In recent years, it has been used, notably in South Africa, for crimes of gang-rape. Again, Cassidy claims that this is from the Irish tiach, which he says means ‘a wallet, small purse; fig. money’. In fact, tiach means a bag or satchel and is not specifically used to refer to a purse. There is no evidence of it being used to mean money (any more than there is evidence for satchel being used figuratively for money in English slang). It is also quite different in pronunciation from the English jack.