Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Thu Dec 16 05:36:51 UTC 2004

On Dec 15, 2004, at 11:22 PM, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
> Subject:      Re: Kibosh
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> --------
>> 1.  Has anyone put forth a good reason why it COULD NOT HAVE come
>> from the
>> Gaelic "cie bas" = "black cap" theory?  Along with this, is there any
>> new
>> evidence that would further this being the source of the word?  And,
>> how far
>> back can the "cie bas" phrase be found meaning what "kibosh" means?
> As far as I can tell the purported Irish etymon might be "caipin báis"
> =
> "cap of death" or so, and maybe there's a short form of "caipin" like
> "caip" to make the thing phonetically plausible, I don't know. At a
> glance
> I don't see any relevant word like "cie". The various spellings and
> glosses
> given suggest that most of us don't know much about Irish (I surely
> don't).
> I don't know that I've ever seen any quotation from any time showing
> this
> used in Irish; maybe it's a genuine expression, but this is one of
> those
> stories that goes around without any supporting citations. As long as
> no
> etymology has been established, all conjectures are permissible, some
> more
> likely than others maybe.

"Caipín" is from English "cap," with the usual Irish diminutive ending
-ín added. Because of Irish spelling conventions, deleting the
diminutive would leave "cap," which might possibly be respelled as
"ceap," since that would yield the approximate pronunciation [kjaep],
as in some dialects of English. The spelling "caip" is very
approximately pronounced "kip."

This is as far as I can go on the fumes of a course in Irish (Munster
dialect) taken about a quarter-century ago. I have no idea whatever
whether "cie" is an Irish word. "Bás" certainly means "death" and its
genitive singular is "báis."

-Wilson Gray
>> 2.  Why is the word "bosh" NOT related to "kibosh?"  I understand that
>> "bosh" is supposedly from the Turkish.  But why couldn't it have been
>> related to "kibosh?"  The close timeframe of such related terms would
>> seems
>> to be made to order for their being related.  I know this isn't a
>> sufficient
>> reason for them to be related, but, they COULD be.  At least, IMHO.
> I think it is said that "bosh" came (not from the Turkish spoken by
> some
> Turks at a London coffee-shop but) from a certain novel. Without a
> special
> source such as that novel, Turkish origin of an arbitrary English word
> would usually be a priori unlikely, I think. Again, various
> conjectures can
> be entertained, until the truth comes to light. Since my knowledge of
> Turkish is slightly less than my knowledge of Irish (if such a thing is
> possible), I won't make any remarks on possible Turkish etyma.
> -- Doug Wilson

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