Kibosh origin?-- etcetera

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Fri Aug 27 13:37:39 UTC 2010

From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Michael Quinion [wordseditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG]
Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2010 8:35 AM
Subject: [ADS-L] Kibosh origin?

A World Wide Words subscriber suggests that the origin of "kibosh" might
lie in the Hebrew root "c-b-sh" which she tells me means to subjugate or
oppress. She notes that the vernacular usage means to end or to stop and
that it might therefore have been applied by Jews in the sense of the
early English examples. Would someone versed in Hebrew care to comment?

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words

Since no one else responded, I will. I am relatively more familiar with
ancient Hebrew than with modern Hebrew (though perhaps little was
newly-composed in the 1830s), and even less with Yiddish. I did read everything
in Anatoly Liberman's bibliography, and considerably more. Unless your correspondent
supplied surprisingly-relevant dated sentences, I suggest the proposal has
little to commend it, though I'll read more if you send more. And I could write
more about the proposal of M. Davis, long-time London Hebrew teacher,
should it seem useful.

I wrote some time ago that I am interested in etymology not only for origins
by for how some got lost. History of scholarship; Rezeptionsgeschicte. Thanks
 very much to those who contributed extra documentation and constructive questions!
 One odd response to my proposal included a story of Auk-seeking and pseudo-ornithology,
seemingly (perhaps I'm mistaken?) bizarre proleptic condemnation--not the only time
a proposal here has been dismissed along with questioning of motives. I sent to OED; OED
did not deign to reply pro forma. OED adds quotes freely contributed without
changing likely-bogus etymologies (e.g. Murphy's Law; malarkey) yet OED retains, e.g.,
 the false-dated Hoosier quote. Generous contributor George asked OUP for a response
 on HDAS publication; but silence. Hardly a way to cultivate contributions and improve the OED.
Whence such disdain? Anatoly, more open than many, considered the proposal, though
without giving all the evidence, and qualified his suggestion to seek a "foreign" word, by excluding
ones too "exotic".

I proposed the kibosh is the kurbash, lash.

Twice in N & Q (1885 and 1901 [also in an Australian book disappeared from GB])
 the following verse, introduced twice:
A returned convict sings:
The "ticket-of-leave" is singing of his gaol comfort and explains:

Oh dear! I can't help a-thinking
they'd knock our profession all to smash
If they'd bring in the kybosh like winking--
That is, they'd introduce the lash.

Apparently, here, as elsewhere,  kybosh equals lash. As does Kurbash.
lash + any of korbadj kurbach kourbach qirbach qurbash courbache corbage kurbash
produces many hits. In addition to the appositions quoted before.
Also, cf. the glossary in The Diana files: the huntress-traveller through history
Fiona Claire Capstick - 2004  Page 332 (confirmed on paper; no mention in the book of
Mary French Sheldon, the 1892 source, though possibly it is not independent attestation)
" kibosh (uncertain [language])  lash or whip."

This list is sometimes quite helpful. Thank you.

Styephen Goranson

The American Dialect Society -

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