Linguistic Myths and Adventures in Etymology

Or maybe you’re too posh to play along this way. Another widely held linguistic urban legend claims “posh” was an abbreviation for “port out, starboard home” stamped on tickets to designate the shadier and more luxurious sides of the ship when traveling between England and India. Yet, no tickets have been uncovered with “POSH” stamped on them, and evidence exists from the late 19th century of the use of the word posh in a similar way as it is used today. While its exact source is unknown, posh may derive from a Romani or an Urdu word, referring variously to money, a dandy, well-dressed, affluent. Phrases like “port out, starboard home” to define the word posh are sometimes called “backronyms” as we work backwards from the letters to an invented phrase and end up creating what appears to be an original acronym.


The folk wisdom built up around common English expressions is often wrong, but it can be fun ferreting out the real origins.Linguistic Myths

Stories of the origin of the term “OK” are all over the map. (Marko Tomicic/Shutterstock)
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Or maybe you’re too posh to play along this way. Another widely held linguistic urban legend claims “posh” was an abbreviation for “port out, starboard home” stamped on tickets to designate the shadier and more luxurious sides of the ship when traveling between England and India. Yet, no tickets have been uncovered with “POSH” stamped on them, and evidence exists from the late 19th century of the use of the word posh in a similar way as it is used today. While its exact source is unknown, posh may derive from a Romani or an Urdu word, referring variously to money, a dandy, well-dressed, affluent. Phrases like “port out, starboard home” to define the word posh are sometimes called “backronyms” as we work backwards from the letters to an invented phrase and end up creating what appears to be an original acronym. Leer más “Linguistic Myths and Adventures in Etymology”