Tag Archives: the liar Daniel Cassidy


Cassidy introduces his treatment of the word chuck as follows:

Chuck, v., chucking, vn., to throw, especially to throw or pitch a ball; tossing, discarding. Uncertain origin or onomatopoeic. (Chapman, 71; OED)

Cassidy’s claim is that “The Irish teilg (pron. chel’әg, throw) is spelled “chock” when it gets tossed into English slang in the 16th century.”

Why isn’t this true? Well, there are a couple of points to remember. One, Cassidy’s ‘system’ of referencing as shown above is completely inadequate. Cassidy gives information about the meaning and possible origins of the word. Then, he gives two different sources, Chapman and the OED. There is no way of knowing which pieces of information come from which books, or indeed if all the ‘information’ comes from either of them. It was a standard practice of Cassidy’s to slip in his own inventions in these multi-source definitions. And who is Chapman? Well, it’s hard to know when you’re dealing with a book with no bibliography, but I would assume it’s probably Robert Chapman of the Dictionary of American Slang. The OED states that chuck is probably from the Old French chuquer, later choquer, “to knock, to bump”. Other sources concur with this possible origin – for example, Eric Partridge’s Origins (originally published in 1958, though my edition was published in the 1990s). While it is not completely certain, it’s a reasonable guess. It was in Cassidy’s interests to pretend that there is no other possible origin because of the weakness of his own half-baked suggestion.

Another problem with Cassidy’s Irish origin is that the word chuck was first used at the end of the 16th century in English. Cassidy likes to claim that many words were borrowed this early from Irish but the only evidence for this is Cassidy’s own discredited words like dock from tobhach or queer from corr. In reality, there seems to have been little Irish influence on English as early as this (apart from words relating to warfare like kern and gallowglass and bonnaught, which the English had good reason to learn).

However, the main reason is that teilg doesn’t sound anything like chuck. Why would anyone borrow a word from Irish and pronounce it in a completely different way? And how can you prove a connection when the two words are so totally unalike?

Teilg does primarily mean to hurl or throw in modern Irish. It originally meant to release, to throw, to shoot a bow, to give birth, to shed tears. You can find a full list of meanings under telcud at the online dictionary eDIL (http://www.dil.ie/search?search_in=headword&q=telcud). It is pronounced something like chelleg in Ulster dialect while in the south it would be tellig. (You can find sound files for the three main dialects on focloir.ie: http://www.focloir.ie/ga/dictionary/ei/cast#cast__12)

In other words, not only is Cassidy’s claim unlikely, the choquer origin makes a lot more sense, which is why Cassidy pretended it didn’t exist. Which is another good reason to chuck your copy of How The Irish Invented Slang …





I am rapidly reaching the point where I find it hard to find new stupidities in Cassidy’s book that I haven’t already debunked. However, there are odd exceptions here and there. One unplucked piece of low-hanging fruit is the claim that ‘miller’, an old cant term for a fighter or boxer, is from Irish.

Firstly, the most parsimonious explanation is quite simply that this expression is an extension of the word miller, someone who keeps or works in a mill. Millers have always had the reputation as strong, rough men, even back as far as Chaucer. And of course, milling can mean grinding, breaking, destroying. In other words, you don’t need to look any further than English ‘miller’ for the origins of the English slang expression ‘miller’. Unless you’re a flake like Daniel Cassidy, of course.

Cassidy’s explanation, as usual, lacks any evidence.

Miller, n., a boxer, a murderer. “Miller, a Killer …” (B.E.’s Dictionary of the Canting Crew, 1699.)

Míle (pron. m’íl’ə), n., a warrior, a soldier; a champion, a hero. Mill, v., to break, to injure; to damage, to destroy. (Dineen [sic], 742; Ó Dónaill, 859, 860.)

One person’s killer is another person’s miller (míle, pron. m’íl’ə, hero, warrior, soldier; champion; destroyer.)”

The problem with this is that míle is not a particularly good match in terms of sound (it’s pronounced meelya or meela – note that Cassidy’s phonetic transcription was as fake as everything else in his miserable ‘skill set’) and it’s not a particularly common word. There are dozens of other words which suit the meaning of boxer or soldier or warrior far better, words like dornálaí (boxer), or saighdiúir (soldier). Míle is actually a fairly obscure borrowing of the Latin word mīles, the root of military and militia.

And it has no etymological connection with the word mill, meaning to destroy in Irish. (MacBain’s dictionary: destroy, Irish, Old Irish millim: *mel-ni-, root mele, fail, miss; Lithuanian mìlyti, fail; Greek @Gméleos, useless, wretched …) The word destroyer added to the list of meanings of míle above is yet another example of the kind of casual random dishonesty that makes Cassidy’s book so totally worthless. And in any case, only an irrational, brain-burned nut-job like Cassidy would think that giving two totally different words with different etymologies as the origin of one English expression would help his case!

A Brief Update

This is just a quick update on a few issues we have touched on over the past few months. Firstly, Belfast politician Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who once described Cassidy as a friend and who over the last year or two has had a motto prominently displayed on his Twitter feed in very poor Irish (Bí thusa an t-athrú a ba mhaith leat a fheiceáil ar an domhan.) Perhaps he or one of his team has spotted my criticism, because the offending piece of bad Irish is gone.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t seen fit to apologise for supporting Daniel Cassidy’s fake etymology and crony friends. As we have also learned recently, Ó Muilleoir, as part of a consortium of Irish businessmen, bought the egregious IrishCentral from Niall O’Dowd last year. Not only that, his daughter Caoimhe Ní Mhuilleoir is apparently employed as a Digital Media Sales Executive at IrishCentral. There’s a coincidence, mar dhea! If anyone was expecting the involvement of the Muilleoirigh to make a difference to the quality of the journalism on IrishCentral, they will be disappointed. The rubbish in support of Daniel Cassidy and against fluoridation, the crap about 4000 year old Celtic invasions of America (I know, it’s insane!), and even the articles which support a white supremacist myth of Irish slavery are still there. The only difference is that the comments which often provide a welcome counterweight to the moronic content of the articles themselves are now missing. Business as usual at IrishCentral, then, in spite of the change of management.

However, Ó Muilleoir isn’t alone in refusing to say sorry or explain himself for supporting this imbecilic revisionist crap. We are still waiting for Hugh Curran to apologise for supporting Cassidy (and implying that he is a native speaker of Irish when he can’t speak the language at all!)

We have also heard nothing back from Columbia University. What do you have to do to get an answer from these people? My advice to any prospective students – go to Cornell instead!

And of course, we’ve never heard a word of apology from the Boston writer Michael Patrick MacDonald for helping to spread these lies about the Irish language. MacDonald is also a crony of Cassidy, as well as a crony of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir. (These people all know each other – they’re like some kind of cult.) Having helped to smear the internet with hundreds of fake Irish derivations on behalf of a charlatan who worked as a ‘professor’ in spite of the fact that he had no qualifications at all, these people think they can just walk away whistling with their hands in their pockets and pretend nothing happened. Personally I am dearg le fearg (red with anger) about this abuse of the Irish language. The least we have a right to expect is a heartfelt apology from these high-profile members of the CCC (Cassidy Crony Club).

I was also looking at the AK Press website the other day. Strangely, there is no mention of Cassidy or his book on the website of the company that published it. That suggests to me that this rubbish is finally out of print and that AK Press are kicking over their traces and that they now realise that Cassidy was a fake – a self-obsessed, ignorant, sexist fraud who lied about his qualifications and whose book was a pompous, dishonest piece of cultural appropriation. Why aren’t they doing the right thing, then? Why are they just ignoring the fact that they bestowed this dross on the world, rather than fessing up and asking for forgiveness? Well, business is business. I suppose they have to think about their reputation and their brand identity, just like all the other capitalists … Some radicals!

Finally, I wanted to mention the excellent series of articles by Liam Hogan on the Irish Slavery meme. His articles on the subject are laid out here:


I recommend that anyone who respects the truth checks it out. And while you’re at it, compare it to the shite on the same subject that’s still there on IrishCentral, courtesy of Niall O’Dowd and his crony friends.


This is one of the many cases in Cassidy’s book where he ignores the correct and straightforward explanation in favour of a creaky and unconvincing origin of his own invention. As he says in the book:

But if a button is … ringing (roinn, pron. ring, to deal) in a crooked deck, every Punter is a loser. (Page 52)

In other words, Cassidy is claiming that ringing, a slang word for substitution, is from the Irish word roinn, the basic meaning of which is divide. Why a word meaning divide or deal would acquire the meaning of substitute is not explained, but then Cassidy didn’t put this one in the glossary, so presumably he was well aware that it was bullshit.

In reality, the term ringing dates back to the early nineteenth century as an expression for substitution, probably from the bell-ringing phrase ‘to ring the changes’. Then in the late nineteenth century, we get the expression a dead ringer, meaning a horse which resembles another horse and is substituted for it to banjax the gambling odds.

Cassidy’s claim is simply nonsense, like nearly everything in How The Irish Invented Slang. Incidentally, there is an even sillier explanation doing the rounds for dead ringer, that it refers to people putting telephones into graves in case they were buried alive. This just goes to show that people are absolute suckers for fake etymology.

Fifteen Reasons Why Cassidy’s ‘Research’ Is Nonsense

At this time of year, many people will be receiving a copy of Cassidy’s rubbish book How The Irish Invented Slang as a present. The cleverest of them will be shaking their heads and wondering whether to put it into a charity shop or straight into the recycling bin. Others will be wondering whether there is a core of truth among all the rubbish. The short answer to that is no. Here is a short list of reasons why Cassidy’s ‘research’ cannot be trusted:

  1. Cassidy made up nearly all the ‘Irish’ in the book. This book is stuffed with rubbish phrases which were invented by Cassidy such as béal ónna, sách úr, leathluí géag, uathadh nua, gruaim béil etc. The overwhelming majority of Cassidy’s derivations belong in this category.
  2. Cassidy faked the material from the Irish dictionaries. Many of the definitions given by Cassidy are entirely false. For example, Cassidy claimed that do-thóigthe (dothógtha in modern spelling) can be used as a noun meaning an orphaned calf. This is pure nonsense.
  3. Many of Cassidy’s made up phrases make no grammatical sense in Irish. For example, I don’t know where high-falutin’ really comes from, but it doesn’t come from Cassidy’s uí bhfolaíocht án!
  4. With many words and phrases, Cassidy claimed that there was no known derivation in English. For example, he claims that the word dock (as in to dock someone’s wages) suddenly appears out of nowhere in the 19th century and that it derives from Irish tobhach meaning a levy or tax. The reality is that it is an extension of dock in the sense of docking an animal’s tail, which is attested from the 14th century in English.
  5. In many cases, Cassidy’s knowledge of Irish pronunciation was so poor that the supposed ‘Irish’ candidates sound nothing like the English words. Gump, meaning a chicken, comes from Irish colm (pronounced kollum), according to Cassidy, presumably because he was pronouncing colm as gomm!
  6. The Irish dictionaries contain many words which are old-fashioned and have not been used in the language for centuries. In Dinneen’s dictionary, these are often unmarked. In Ó Dónaill, they are usually marked as Lit. (=Literary). Cassidy put ancient words like ónna together with current words like béal and his explanation for Hot-diggity-dog (árd-iachtach-tach) combines an element that probably hasn’t been used for a thousand years ungrammatically with misspelled modern Irish.
  7. Millions of bilingual Irish and English speakers have lived and died in Ireland, America, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand over the last two hundred years. Yet, apparently, none of them ever spotted this vast mass of hidden Irish in the English language. Isn’t that strange? Isn’t it completely implausible that nobody noticed that baloney might come from béal ónna (if béal ónna existed, that is!)
  8. Why aren’t these words found in Irish English as well? The real examples like shebeen and ‘look at the puss on him!’ are in Hiberno-English. Hardly any of Cassidy’s slang terms are actually used in Ireland.
  9. Cassidy frequently gave different versions of his Irish derivations. For example, dingbat supposedly came from duine bod or from duine bocht. If there were really an obvious one-to-one relation between the English word and Irish, these multiple versions shouldn’t exist.
  10. Cassidy frequently used obscure dialect terms and the most obscure meanings of terms. For example, ráibéad is an obscure term from one part of Connemara. And ceap has the obscure, poetic meaning of protector in Irish but that isn’t the usual meaning. If you thought of a policeman as a protector (dubious enough in the slums of New York, I would have thought), why wouldn’t you call him your cosantóir? He also drew on Scottish Gaelic when he couldn’t find what he was looking for in Irish!
  11. Why wouldn’t Irish speakers have used words which they already had? Why did they supposedly invent leathluí géag, which supposedly became lollygag, rather than words like learaireacht and leadaiocht and scraistíocht which mean the same thing and would have been familiar to them?
  12. Some people will probably say, why would Cassidy lie? My answer to this is, why wouldn’t Cassidy lie? Cassidy was a pathological liar. He spent twelve years drawing a salary as a professor on the strength of a degree he didn’t have. This was a criminal offence. If he’d been caught, he would almost certainly have been imprisoned for it. If he was prepared to lie so recklessly in that case, you think it would have bothered him to make up a load of nonsense in Irish?
  13. Why would respectable people in America and Ireland support this book if there’s no truth to it? Most of the people who supported him knew him personally and were part of his social circle, people like Joe Lee and Peter Quinn and Michael Patrick Macdonald. As for those who support this garbage without being part of the charmed circle, take your pick! Stupidity, arrogance, a refusal to listen to people who actually know about these things, faulty logic, wishful thinking, fake radicalism, gullibility, being nuts …
  14. People like Grant Barrett have pointed out that when words cross language boundaries, there tends to be some evidence of it. People tend to write things like ‘as the Irish say’ or the early examples tend to be found in a particular context, uttered by Irish people or obviously Irish characters in fiction. For example, the word hubbub comes from the Irish ababú. In early texts, it was often called ‘the Irish hubbub’. Of course, as many of these terms are slang terms, it would be unreasonable to expect such evidence for every word claimed by Cassidy. But you would expect at least a fraction of them to have such evidence. In reality, there is no evidence at all of this kind for any of the hundreds of fake derivations given by Cassidy in this book.
  15. Many of the more plausible derivations given by Cassidy (words like snazzy and longshoreman and rookie and say uncle) were plagiarised by Cassidy and were already claimed by other people. Cassidy didn’t acknowledge his debt to them. Most of these derivations are also wrong but not as crazy as the ones invented by Danny the Dork.

Gams and Gombeens

Gams is an obsolete slang term for legs, the kind of thing that a gumshoe would come out with. “She had gams that went all the way up to the top … and all the way back down again. They were the kind of gams that could drive a man to drink, and she didn’t even have a licence for them…”

According to the liar Daniel Cassidy in his lying piece of trash How The Irish Invented Slang, this is Irish. Of course it is. According to Cassidy, half the words in the English language had an Irish origin lurking behind them, usually a dodgy-looking piece of work with a Noo Yoik accent which no Irish-speaker would recognise. In this case, Cassidy’s candidate is gamba, which means a lump or a chunk.

There is some doubt about the immediate origin of gams, but there is no doubt that it comes from a Romance (i.e. a Latin root) word which means leg. There are many related words. The word camba in Catalan, jambe in French (gamba in Old French), gamba in Spanish (which means the bottom part of an animal’s leg as well as a prawn). At some point, probably in the Middle Ages, the French word was borrowed into Irish as gamba, meaning a lump. As I have said before, when an Irish noun ends in an –a, it is usually a sure sign that it is a borrowing from another language (siopa, pota, cóta, cárta, nóta.)  In other words, the slang word gam comes from French or Italian, and the Irish word gamba comes from the same root. But there is no evidence that Irish had anything directly to do with the English slang word gam.

Incidentally, the word gaimbín means a little piece or (financial) interest in Irish, and a gombeen-man in Irish English means a loan-shark. My wife’s family use gombeen in English to mean an idiot as well, probably because it sounds right, like goof or geek or dork. I had always assumed that gaimbín was simply a diminutive form of gamba but apparently the situation is more complex than that:


You learn something new every day, if you keep an open mind and listen to the experts.