Most likely derived from Romani posh (“half”), either because posh-kooroona (“half a crown”) (originally a substantial sum of money) was used metaphorically for anything pricey or upper-class, or because posh-houri "half-penny" became a general term for money.
A period slang dictionary defines "posh" as a term used by thieves for "money : generic, but specifically, a halfpenny or other small coin". An example is given from Page's Eavesdropper (1888): "They used such funny terms: 'brads,' and 'dibbs,' and 'mopusses,' and 'posh' ... at last it was borne in upon me that they were talking about money."
A popular folk etymology holds that the term is an acronym for "port out, starboard home", describing the cooler, north-facing cabins taken by the most aristocratic or rich passengers travelling from Britain to India and back. However, there is no evidence for this claim.
See also the articles mentioned in the References section below for additional discussion.
- (General American) IPA(key): /pɑʃ/
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /pɒʃ/
Audio (UK) (file)
- Rhymes: -ɒʃ
- Associated with the upper classes.
- She talks with a posh accent.
- Stylish, elegant, exclusive (expensive).
- After the performance they went out to a very posh restaurant.
- (usually offensive, especially in Scotland and Northern England) Snobbish, materialistic, prejudiced, under the illusion that one is better than everyone else.
- We have a right posh git moving in next door
- 1919: "Well, it ain't one of the classic events. It were run over there." Docker jerked a thumb vaguely in the direction of France. "At a 'Concours Hippique,' which is posh for 'Race Meeting.' — Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 156, June 18, 1919
- An exclamation expressing derision.
- 1889: "The czar! Posh! I slap my fingers--I snap my fingers at him." — Rudyard Kipling, The Man Who Was
- Ačaṙean, Hračʿeay (1979), “փոշի”, in Hayerēn armatakan baṙaran [Dictionary of Armenian Root Words] (in Armenian), volume IV, 2nd edition, Yerevan: University Press, page 517a
- Vaillant, Jean-Alexandre (1868), “pos’”, in Grammaire, dialogues et vocabulaire de la langue des Bohémiens ou Cigains (in French), Paris: Maisonneuve, page 123a