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Kibosh, bosh



Daryl Debell informs us:

H.L. Mencken, in The American Language, says that kibosh, along with a number of other Americanisms was included in a Glossary of the London edition of Sinclair's Babbitt. Unfortunately he gives no information about its origin.

My retort: Thanks Daryl, but Mencken is wrong. He was so eager to prove that there was an American language that he shows his ignorance of etymology. It is an old English word, so I do not know why it would be in an English glossary. Here again, I think Menken was wrong. The OED gives it under "kibosh":

1836 DICKENS Sk. Boz, Seven Dials, ‘Hoo-roar’, ejaculates a pot-boy in a parenthesis, ‘put the kye-bosk [sic] on her, Mary’. 1846 Swell's Night Guide 124 Kybosh on, to put the, to turn the tables on any person, to put out of countenance. 1856 Punch XXXI. 139 (To put the cibosh upon). 1891 C. ROBERTS Adrift in America 9 It was attending one of these affairs which finally put the ‘kibosh’ on me. 1896 H. G. WELLS Wheels of Chance xli, ‘I put the kybosh on his little game,’ he remarks. 1924 Chambers's Jrnl. May 296/2 Standofer's fairly put the kybosh on us this time. 1952 J. CLEARY Sundowners iii. 122 Well, that puts the kybosh on it. 1956 H. G. DE LISSER Cup & Lip xxii. 246 Good for you... You have put the kybosh on them. 1971 Times Lit. Suppl. 7 May 531/2 Not only did the First World War liquidate the Edwardian douceur de vivre. It also put the kybosh on the rationalist's faith in progressive social evolution. 1975 Sunday Post (Glasgow) 10 Aug. 7/3 She'd been looking forward to some salmon fishing, but the heatwave's put the kybosh on that".

Webster's New World Dictionary says "kibosh: earlier also kyebosh, kybosh. Probably (Yiddish?) ultimately Middle High German kaibem carrion, Influenced in English by bosh," The same dictionary says that bosh comes from Turkish. I suspect that these Yiddish and Turkish etymologies are bosh.

Ronald Hilton - 11/22/01


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