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Re: Ps & Qs and folk etymology

John Ciardi (A Browser's Dictionary) discusses POSH.  He does talk about
the maritime definition (which, BTW I always accepted) and disputes its
accuracy.  It was said to be applied to ships of the Peninsula and
Eastern steamship line during passage to India through the Suez Canal.
He states that the acronym is correct for east-west passage.  However, he
goes on to contend that due to the monsoons only the season can determine
which side is sheltered.  Apparently veterans of the Peninsula and
Eastern had never heard of the term.

More importantly, he sates that there is an earlier origin for the word.
To make a long paragraph short, he races the origin through British Gypsies
where it referred to half.  From the Gypsies, British rogues used
compounds such as hosh-houri (half-pence), and posh-kooroona
(half-crown).  Posh became associated with money amongst thieves with,
over time, meaning shifting to swank, etc.


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