an early kibosh--Ki'bosh--Feb. 1, 1835

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Tue Aug 20 12:08:20 UTC 2013

My third comment sent to Anatoly Liberman's blog post on kibosh:

Stephen Goranson says:
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August 20, 2013 at 8:00 am

Correcting myself, there were two more uses of kibosh before the Feb. 1, 1835 use in Bell’s, the periodical in which Dickens’ use appeared later.
As for J. P. Maher’s proposal, the quote with an 18 pence coin was unfortunate, as the existence of such had already been questioned, and a monarch “head” on any one British coin would hardly be distinctive anyway. Rather the later development connected the Hebrew word for life, the letters representing 8 + 10.
The clogmaker tool name would appear to be a later development, too. And kibosh is first attested in London, not the north. And Douglas Wilson had already in 2010 very tentatively raised the possibility of a clogmaker tool, in the ADS-L archive that Gold’s article neglected to cite. For a (late, 1893) description of kibosh use in clogmaking–not the last step, see:;view=1up;seq=392
And should we distingiush finish as in create and finish as in destroy? And the sense of whip/lash may have preceded and led to the later senses.
(Note the use also of gammon in three early examples.)
The kurbash/kibosh was known in London in the 1830s, where reporter spelling of Cockney did not always follow some handbook.
Or does some word of more suitable sense and spelling exist, one that is foreign but not too exotic, one that is better-known but that has eluded linguists for well over a century?
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Stephen Goranson
From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Stephen Goranson [goranson at DUKE.EDU]
Sent: Sunday, August 18, 2013 2:00 PM
Subject: [ADS-L] an early kibosh--Ki'bosh--Feb. 1, 1835

I have notes on articles on kibosh that I may send later, but, for now, pass along an early use of kibosh--actually Ki'bosh--that I found today. This dates after the stories about Wellington having put the kibosh on the Whigs and having floored (not decapitated) them, printed in numerous British newspapers in Nov. and Dec. 1834, and probably after the broadside (ca. 1830, according to the expert, J. A. Ferguson) "Penal Servitude!" that evidently equates the kibosh and the lash, but earlier (as far as I know) than other reported uses of more-or-less this spelling and sense, including by that by Dickens. Many spellings of kurbash etc. (whip, lash) are attested earlier many times.

Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle (London). Sunday Feb. 1, 1835. Issue 644. p. 3 col. 1.
headline: "THE FLASH TAILORS." It supposedly reports London "dodges" by a firm of "builders of hunting kicksies [breeches, trousers]." "Nimrods" are invited to try "White Hunting Buckskin Cloth" that "some of the best Workmen Across Leather for Wet Work." Yet such are still called leather worked via "an _Unknown Artful Plan_, having enter'd into a Contract for Seven Years for the supply of Skins from the largest Parks in _Fudduxshire_.--To put the _Ki'bosh_ on those who Gammon to slave for Nix, they have chalk'd out the following list of charges...."

Stephen Goranson

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