Phony

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  1. Gary B:

    Re Posh:

    I have seen this argument in several places, but I continue to doubt the Romany derivation of posh.

    My grandmother, who was born in Scotland and grew up in India (pronounced, “Indja” of course), was the one who introduced me to the Port Out Starboard Home version. She was born in 1878 and first sailed to India in 1880 or 1881 at the age of two and 1/2. Thus, if the acronym derivation of posh came later than the Romany version, it happened before 1880.

    According to her the term arose because of the fact the passengers preferred to have something to look at in the coastal steamers (and sailing ships) of that era. I think it was actually more related to vacationers into the Med, rather than all the way to India, as it had to do with round trip tickets. Going south, the port side was the land side, while the starboard side had nothing but ocean. Going north, the reverse was true. The passenger reservations or tickets for those who could afford this had the abbreviation “P.O.S.H.” on them, and thus the term began to be used by the stewards to refer to that set of passengers.

    I like to think (rightly or wrongly) that my grandmother knew everything, especially something in her own experience. I also have to wonder how a Romany term for money would have made it into English so conveniently, so I will continue to think this question is still not settled. :)

    Of course, this might also have been her mother’s little joke…

    I suppose that if any ship passenger tickets of that time still exist, they might provide some useful evidence for or against.

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