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

victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 12 02:58:32 UTC 2011

Here's a citation of one of the dialectal "glossaries" (1877) that
identifies "posh" with "money". This does not offer any etymology, but it
does suggest a longer route than previously mentioned.
Glossary of Words Used in Holderness in the East-Riding of Yorkshire. 1877
[second half of GB volume]
p. 109

As is usually the case with these glossaries, a lot of dialectal features
they identify to a particular location is actually broader and may occur in
other dictionaries.

Here's another (1865) that places "posh" among "not less than one hundred
and thirty slang terms" for money in England.
Harper's New Monthly Magazine. 1865
Thieves' Jargon. p. 605/2

> Money, in its various shapes, is known by not less than one hundred and thirty
> slang terms in England. Specie is called *beans *or *blunt*--to
> distinguish it from *stiff, *and *rags, *which mean banknotes; *brads,
> brass, bustle, coppers, clank, clinkers, chips, corks, dibbs, dinarIy,
> dimmock, dust, feathers, gent *(silver--from argent), *haddock *(a purse
> of money), *horse nails, loaver, lour *(the oldest cant term for money), *mopusses,
> needful, nobbings *(money collected in a hat by street-performers), *ochre
> *(gold), *pewter, palm-oil, **posh, **Queen's pictures, quids, ready, *or
> *ready gilt, redge *(gold), *rhino, rowdy, shiners *(sovereigns), *skin *(a
> purse of money), *stiff *(paper, or bill of acceptance), *stuff, stumpy,
> tin *(silver), *wedge *(silver), and *yellow boys *(sovereigns). So
> attentive is slang speech to financial matters, that there are  seven terms
> for bad, or " bogus" coin. Bogus, by-the-way, is American slang. *A case *is
> a counterfeit five-shilling piece; *half a case *represents half that sum
> ; *grays *are half-pence made double for gambling purposes; *queer-soft *is
> counterfeit or lead coin; *schofel *refers to coated or spurious coin; *sheen
> *is bad money of any description; and *sinkers *bears the same and not
> inappropriate meaning. *Flying the kite, *or obtaining money on bills and promissory
> notes, is closely connected with the allegorical expression of *raising
> the wind. *In winter or in summer any elderly gentleman who may have
> prospered in life is pronounced *warm; *while an equivalent is immediately
> at hand in the phrase, "his pockets are well *lined*."* *


On Sun, Sep 11, 2011 at 9:51 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at>wrote:

> ...
> > 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.
> LH

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