Tag Archives: Yiddish

Cassidese Glossary – Slugger

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 the word slugger, as in someone who hits a ball strongly, comes from the Irish word slacaire, which means a hitter or a batsman (slacaí in modern Standard Irish). On the face of it, this seems like a convincing claim but if you examine it more closely, it becomes less clear.

Firstly, let’s look at slug as a word for hitting. The English dictionaries agree that it is related to slog (as in ‘a hard slog’) and that its origin is unknown. For the word slog, its first recorded use in English is apparently in 1824, while slug is even later, in 1830. The Irish word slacadh apparently comes from slaic (slacán) which mean stick or bat.

The problem is this. Slog looks Germanic. It looks and sounds as though it is related to the German schlagen or the Yiddish shlogn. It seems likely to have been a borrowing from German or Dutch or an obscure English dialect word which was never recorded.

My main reason for being sceptical of Cassidy’s claim is that slacadh sounds very different from slog or slug. The sl is the same, but if English borrowed the word slacadh without changing the sound, you would have a great batsman described as a slacker, who really slacks the ball! Slog could have been borrowed into English from Irish, but it means to swallow. Both slack (slac) and slog (slog) are perfectly easily pronounced words in both English and Irish, so there would be no reason to use slog instead of slack.

Noogie

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.

Gimmick

This is another ridiculous claim of Cassidy’s, that the word ‘gimmick’ comes from the Irish camóg, which according to The Great Fraud means ‘a trick’, ‘a deceit’ or ‘a hooked stick’. Gimmick first makes its appearance in the 1920s. It originally meant a device for fixing a roulette wheel or something similar at a fairground so that people would not win anything valuable. It then came to mean any kind of magician’s device and then a publicity stunt or politician’s trick.

Its origin is not known. Some have suggested a link to gimcrack but there are no good suggestions on the table. Among the no-good suggestions on the table is Cassidy’s idea that it comes from the Irish camóg. Camóg is a diminutive of the word cam, meaning crooked.  

Here are its definitions, according to the electronic version of Ó Dónaill’s dictionary.

1. crook, hooked stick

2. camogie stick (camogie is the women’s version of hurling)

3. gaff-hook

4. chinks

5. camóg ara, hollow of temple

6. a. concave scallop shell

6. b. small wooden dish

7. wisp (of smoke)

8. ripple (on water)

9. comma 

Is there anything there which makes you automatically think of devices or tricks? Maybe the original gimmick which was used to interfere with the wheel of fortune was hooked. And maybe it wasn’t. But I can’t really see why camóg would become gimmick, where the vowels are completely different and the g and c are reversed. Cassidy spoofed a lot about the ‘English phonetic overcoats’ which cover his candidate ‘Irish’ phrases but the fact is that most genuine borrowed words look a lot like the word they derive from. Samurai, bagel and shebeen may not be exactly like their Japanese, Yiddish or Irish source-words but they’re close enough and I see no reason why fairground folk wouldn’t have talked about kammogs instead of gimmicks if this were really the origin of the word.

Once again, Cassidy’s idea is superficially attractive but turns out to be very, very unlikely.