[Ads-l] Put the kibosh on: Evidence it referred to a whip, #1

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jun 15 12:09:02 EDT 2018


As I read the poem, it is clear that the lash is considered a kibosh, but
not that all kiboshes are lashes. The kibosh as "stopper" works here.

On Fri, Jun 15, 2018, 10:40 AM Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at mst.edu> wrote:

> I am puzzled by the suggestion below that the writer of
> the poem Penal Servitude used the word lash
> merely to make up a quatrain, i.e., for its rhyme with
> the word smash. By that interpretation the word lash
> here is meaningless, but nowhere in the verses of
> Penal Servitude do we see the writer inserting a
> meaningless word.  The assumption that such a
> meaningless insertion occurs here overlooks the
> much more obvious interpretation that the poet is
> defining a term (kibosh) which was almost certainly
> unfamiliar to most readers of the poem when it
> was written (ca. 1830).
>
> Also, outside of Penal Servitude there are several
> pieces of other evidence that the word kibosh referred
> to a whip (e.g. the unambiguous quote in the 1892 book by
> French-Sheldon), and since that definition makes perfect
> sense in the poem Penal Servitude, why should it not be
> accepted at face value there?
>
> Gerald Cohen
>
>
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
> Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at NB.NET>
> Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 6:54 PM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: Re: Put the kibosh on: Evidence it referred to a whip, #1
>
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
> Subject:      Re: Put the kibosh on: Evidence it referred to a whip, #1
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> On 6/6/2018 2:13 PM, Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:
> > In 2017, Stephen Goranson, Matthew Little and I published the book Origin
> >
> > of Kibosh (in the expression put the kibosh on.)  The origin of the
> expression
> >
> > had long been mysterious, but thanks primarily to Stephen Goranson, the
> answer
> >
> > is now clear, at least in the view of the three authors:  We deal
> originally with the
> >
> > kurbash (a type of whip made of hippopotamus or rhinoceros hide and
> shaped like
> >
> > a stick. This kurbash is also occasionally spelled kibosh.
> >
> >
> > I'm not sure when the book will be reviewed in the scholarly journals,
> but I would like now
> >
> > to share with ads-l the seven main pieces of evidence that the
> expression put the kibosh on
> >
> > referred originally to the kurbash.  Here is the first installment:
> >
> >
> > PIECE OF EVIDENCE #1:
> >
> >
> >   A line in the poem (ca. 1830) Penal Servitude! specifically defines the
> >
> > noun kibosh as a lash. The key verse in the poem (supposedly written by
> >
> > a convict who has returned from imprisonment in Australia) is:
> >
> >
> >
> >               There is one little dodge I am thinking,
> >
> >               That would put your profession all to smash,
> >
> >               It would put on the kibosh like winking,
> >
> >               That is if they was to introduce the lash.
> >
> >
> >
> > The poet is aware that his readers are likely unaware of the meaning put
> >
> > on the kibosh and therefore promptly clarifies: That is if they was to
> introduce
> >
> > the lash.
> >
> >
> > The meaning of the verse is that the application of the kibosh (a type
> of whip)
> >
> > would bring your criminal profession to an immediate halt. The
> kurbash/kibosh
> >
> > was a fearsome instrument of punishment.
> >
> >
> > This poem was the starting point for the origin of put the kibosh on.
> >
> >
> > Gerald Cohen
> >
> >
> > Book information:
> >
> > Gerald Cohen, Stephen Goranson, and Matthew Little. Origin of
> >
> >       Kibosh: Routledge Studies in Etymology. (London and New York:
> >
> >       Routledge; Taylor & Francis). ISBN 9781138628953.  The book
> >
> >       gives 2018 as the date of publication, but it was in fact available
> >
> >       already by mid-October 2017.
> --
>
> My perception is a little different. I believe the most natural
> interpretation assigns this poem's "kibosh" about the same meaning it
> has today, i.e., something like "stopper" (I think this is used
> elsewhere in the same poem) meaning "that which checks or halts
> [something]". I do NOT believe the poet probably intended "kibosh" to be
> equivalent or synonymous to "whip" or "lash" or to denote a whip or
> lash. I think the third line in the stanza in question roughly repeats
> the second line, probably just to make up a quatrain.
>
> Of course there may be some poetic license and my assessment (like
> others') may not be 100% decisive.
>
> I am NOT asserting that the modern word "kibosh" cannot be descended
> from "kibosh" = "kurbash" meaning "[a type of] whip" or so. I don't
> believe the poem necessarily contributes any significant information
> about "kibosh" etymology.
>
> I have a few other notions but of course I haven't given this subject
> much attention compared to the three authors. I have read PART of the
> book at Google Books. I have read Gold's paper and something by Maher
> (these suggest different etymologies). I do not believe I know a
> definite "kibosh" etymology. I can make further remarks, either on or
> off the mailing list, if they would be welcome or useful.
>
> -- Doug Wilson
>
>
>
>
>
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>

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