Tag Archives: tantrum

Cassidese Glossary – Tantrum

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 work of etymological fiction, How The Irish Invented Slang, the late Daniel Cassidy claimed that the word tantrum in English derives from the Irish word teintrighim (tintrím as it would be in modern spelling), which would be pronounced chen-chreem. This is a real word from Dinneen’s dictionary. Dinneen defines it as ‘I flash forth, lighten, brighten, glisten’.

I need hardly point out that while this word exists (it’s in a dictionary) it is hard to think of any circumstance where it would actually be used, as storms rarely speak, even in stories. As usual, Cassidy does not simply copy the meanings given by Irish scholars, so his definition of the word is: ‘I flash-forth; fig. I have a tantrum or fiery fit’.

Back in reality, the origin of tantrum is almost certainly traceable to the name of a devil in English folklore, Tantrum-Bobus. This was used as a nickname for a boisterous child and eventually, it came to have the meaning of a fit of anger. For example, in the 1810s, in his diary, Henry Monro gives a list of his brother Tom’s rows with family members, including “a tantrum bobus with my mother”. Monro was a Londoner.

Tantrum

Nobody knows where the word tantrum comes from, though it has been around for at least three hundred years.  Some sources say that it originally had the meaning of penis. How it came to mean a fit of temper is unknown.

Daniel Cassidy claims that the word derives from the Irish teintrighim, which is defined as ‘I flash forth’. This is a really bizarre claim and there is absolutely no chance that it is correct. For one thing, tintrím (modern spelling) is not a verb which is given in Ó Dónaill, though it is given as teintrighim in Dinneen. While teintrighim is given as a headword in Dinneen (who tends to give the first person form of verbs), it is hard to see how ‘I flash forth’ would really be used in any imaginable context, except by some Celtic thunder god. There is certainly no evidence of the word teintrighim being used as a noun like tantrum. A tantrum would usually be translated in Irish as a racht feirge or a taghd or a spadhar. There is no evidence even of tintríocht (the abstract noun meaning fieriness) being used to mean tantrum.

As usual in Cassidy’s ridiculous book, it’s complete nonsense.