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

Michael Quinion wordseditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Mon Sep 12 14:59:31 UTC 2011

This citation, though two years later than the one Garson O'Toole has
found, gives what we is often quoted as the canonical version of the
etymythology. The book may be the direct source of the tale.

[P. O. S. H. Days-And Not so Posh, Being an appreciation of "A Hundred
Year History of the P. & O.": by Boyd Cable. Illustrated London News
(London), Saturday, September 11, 1937; pg. 422/3.] How would he have
stood the heat that gave birth to "Posh"? The tale is that the P. & 0.
in the Red Sea was responsible for the creation of the slang word
"posh." "On the outward passage, the cabins on the port side get the
early morning sun, but had the whole day to cool off. The starboard
side cabins, however, had the full heat of the westering sun all the
afternoon, and were like ovens by bed-time. On the homeward passage,
of course, it was reversed, and the port cabins got the worst
roasting.        High officials and important dignitaries were accordingly
given the preference of the cooler cabins to port on the outward and
to starboard on the homeward passages; and this 'Port
Outward-Starboard Homeward' became shortened down to the initials'
P.O.S.H.', and the favoured passengers were the 'posh' ones." Now all
are posh!

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words

The American Dialect Society -

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