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.
In his etymological hoax, How The Irish Invented Slang, Daniel Cassidy claimed that the word swoon (to faint) comes from the Irish suan, an old-fashioned word for sleep.
Confusingly, Cassidy states that the English word swoon is of unknown etymology, then below that he says:
Many Anglo-American dictionaries derive swoon “from Old English geswōgan in a faint … past participle of swōgan, as in āswōgan, to choke, of uncertain origin.”
In other words, according to the mainstream dictionaries, while the ultimate origins of the word may be unknown, the history of the word swoon goes as far back as the Old English period more than a thousand years ago. By the Middle English period (according to the Michigan Middle English Dictionary) it was swounen, defined as “To become unconscious, faint, swoon; collapse in a swoon.”
In other words, the similarity of swoon and suan is pure coincidence and the word swoon is not of Irish origin.