Daniel Cassidy

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For the DC superhero, see Blue Devil. For the English footballer, see Daniel Cassidy (footballer).

Daniel Cassidy (1943 Brooklyn – October 11, 2008) was a controversial American writer, filmmaker and academic.[1]


Cassidy was the son of a navy chief petty officer. He graduated from New York Military Academy on a full scholarship. While it is sometimes claimed that he graduated from Cornell University, that institution denies that he completed his studies there.[2]

Cassidy worked for the New York Times as a news assistant. He was a professional musician, starting as a reed player, and cutting an album as a singer and composer. He played Carnegie Hall, the Civic Auditorium, and The Tonight Show – performing with comedian George Carlin,[3] Kenny Rankin, and Lilly Tomlin.

Cassidy married Clare McIntyre, in 1983. In 1995, he founded and co-directed the Irish Studies program at New College of California.[citation needed]

His work appeared in the New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle,[4] the New York Observer and the Atlantic Monthly.

Cassidy died of pancreatic cancer at his home in San Francisco.[5]




  • How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads. CounterPunch Books and AK Press. July 2007. ISBN 978-1-904859-60-4. 

Documentary films[edit]

  • "Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs" nominated in 1996 for an Emmy Award.
  • "Uncensored Voices,"


  • "Dan Cassidy" Released by Little David Records "LD 1002" in 1972.


Cassidy's book is one of those eureka moments that leap beyond the ordinary to give us a new understanding of the subject at hand.[6]

So utterly, completely stupid, only a total nincompoop like Cassidy could have come up with it.[7]


Etymologies from Cassidy's How the Irish Invented Slang are widely duplicated across the internet. However, many of Cassidy's definitions have been shown to be wishful thinking or completely made up.[8] Cassidy was not able to speak Irish himself and was unfamiliar with the grammatical rules.[9] He apparently found words in Irish dictionaries that he thought had a similar pronunciation to English words or phrases with a vaguely connected meaning. He then claimed these English words to have an Irish origin even when the English word already had a well established etymology.[10]

Although his theories appeal to the idea that the contributions of working class Irish immigrants to US English have been ignored by English-speaking lexicographers, they have been heavily criticized by academics. These include the American lexicographer Grant Barrett[11] and Irish lexicographer Terence Dolan, Professor of Old and Middle English at University College Dublin.[12]


External links[edit]