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A drawing of a female beggar holding a large bowl, captioned “Backsheesh!”, from A Ride in Egypt, from Sioot to Luxor in 1879 (1886)[1]

Alternative forms[edit]


From Turkish bahşiş, from Persian بخشیش (bakhšīš, present; an honorary or pecuniary gratuity; drink-money) or بخشش (bakhšiš), from بخشیدن (bakhšīdan, to give, grant, bestow).


  • IPA(key): /bækˈʃiːʃ/
  • Hyphenation: bak‧sheesh


baksheesh (usually uncountable, plural baksheeshes)

  1. (business, ethics) in the Middle East, southwest Asia and Eastern Europe: a bribe or tip.
    • 1869, Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrim's Progress: Being Some Account of the Steamship Quaker City's Pleasure Excursion to Europe and the Holy Land: With Descriptions of Countries, Nations, Incidents and Adventures, as they Appeared to the Author: With Two Hundred and Thirty-four Illustrations, Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Company [et al.], OCLC 197666920; republished San Francisco, Calif: H. H. Bancroft and Company; Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Company, 1869, OCLC 851260735, pages 504–505:
      As we rode into Magdala not a soul was visible. But the ring of the horses' hoofs roused the stupid population, and they all came trooping out—old men and old women, boys and girls, the blind, the crazy, and the crippled, all in ragged, soiled and scanty raiment, and all abject beggars by nature, instinct and education. [] [O]ut of their infidel throats, with one accord, burst an agonizing and most infernal chorus: "Howajji, bucksheesh! howajji, bucksheesh! howajji, bucksheesh! bucksheesh! bucksheesh!" I never was in a storm like that before. As we paid the bucksheesh out to sore-eyed children and brown, buxom girls with repulsively tattooed lips and chins, we filed through the town []
    • 1965, Leo Deuel, Testaments of Time: the Search for Lost Manuscripts and Records, New York, N.Y.: Knopf, OCLC 575271, page 367:
      [] the complex Oriental etiquette which under the name of “baksheesh” calls for lavish remuneration and bribes, rudely demanded but ever so graciously accepted by the natives in return for little or no services rendered.
    • 1977, Joseph Krimsky, Pilgrimage & Service (America and the Holy Land), New York, N.Y.: Arno Press, ISBN 978-0-405-10261-5, pages 20–21:
      We see the immense, massive granite sarcophagi which had contained the embalmed mummies of the worshipped animals, coming out of this labyrinth, we pay our backsheesh, remount our donkeys and return to the automobile.
    • 1985, Eugene R. Laczniak [et al.], Gene R. Laczniak and Patrick E. Murphy, editors, Marketing Ethics: Guidelines for Managers, Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, ISBN 978-0-669-10833-0, page 86:
      Baksheesh (lubrication payment) is often the accepted manner of doing business in the Middle and Far East. However, one must be careful not to confuse ethics with the law.
    • 2005 December 6, Jim Eagles, “Egypt: Smile on the Nile”, in The New Zealand Herald[1], Auckland: Wilson and Horton, ISSN 1170-0777:
      In the tomb of Ramses III, one side chamber has beautiful pictures showing musicians playing for the pharoah[sic] and his fellow gods. [] In yet another are poignant scenes of everyday life in Egypt. They don't show people demanding backsheesh but I suspect it happened back then because it seems bred into the local psyche. The guards in the tombs want payment for offering unnecessary directions, for handing out pieces of cardboard able to be used as fans – and for just being there.




baksheesh (third-person singular simple present baksheeshes, present participle baksheeshing, simple past and past participle baksheeshed)

  1. To bribe with a baksheesh.


  1. ^ W[illiam] J[ohn] Loftie (1886) A Ride in Egypt, from Sioot to Luxor in 1879: With Notes on the Present State and Ancient History of Nile Valley, and Some Account of the Various Ways of Making the Voyage Out and Home, London: Macmillan & Co., OCLC 3644952, page 60.



baksheesh m (uncountable)

  1. (rare) baksheesh (bribe or tip paid to speed up services in the Middle East and SW Asia)