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Re: Ps & Qs and folk etymology



At 10:44 PM 2/1/98 -0500, you wrote:
>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.

Ah yes. As the character in _Promenade_ says,

        I know everything
                Everything I know
        Half the things I REALLY know--
                The rest I make up.

Thanks for your interesting message! -tb

Terry Belanger  :  University Professor  :   University of Virginia
Book Arts Press : 114 Alderman Library : Charlottesville, VA  22903
Tel: 804/924-8851   FAX: 804/924-8824  email: belanger@xxxxxxxxxxxx
            URL: http://poe.acc.virginia.edu/~oldbooks/


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