Etymythology of posh, P. O. S. H.

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Sep 12 01:51:52 UTC 2011

On Sep 11, 2011, at 9:55 PM, Gerald Cohen wrote:

> Here's a bibliographical reference for the discussion
> of P.O.S.H.:
> J. Peter Maher: "_Posh_". In: _Studies in Slang_, part (= vol.) 1,
> edited by Gerald Leonard Cohen. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.,
> 1985, pp. 64-65.
> Maher discusses and rejects the Port-Out-Starboard-Home etymology and
> suggests instead: "Everyone familiar with London speech
> knows that the _l_ of words like _milk_, _I'll_, _well_ and
> such are 'gulped'... Londoners, in particular the Cockneys,
> pronounce the verb _to polish_ as _pawsh_, to write it in an American
> fashion, or _posh_ to give the authentic, if non-standard, British spelling.
> The verb is fully conjugated: "I, you, we, they _posh_; he, she, it
> _poshes_; it is, they are _poshed_ types, or live in _posh(ed)_ digs.
> Maher goes on to derive the adjective _posh_ from this _posh(ed)_,
> i.e.., ultimately from _polish_."
With any direct evidence of "polish" used as an adjective, or anyone connecting "posh" with "polish"?  Is "poshed" as in "poshed types/digs" ever attested?  Does even "polished digs" occur in print?   If not, it sounds suspiciously like an alternate etymythology.  The variant-of-"push" and Romany stories sound more plausible to me, if I had to guess.


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