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adj. posh·er, posh·est
1. Fashionable or luxurious: a posh hotel.
2. Typical of the upper class, especially in the United Kingdom: a posh upbringing.
3. Affectedly imitating characteristics of the upper class; pretentious: a posh accent.
[Probably from earlier slang posh, halfpenny, money, dandy, from Romani (dialect of England) posh-hórri, halfpenny : posh, half (from Sanskrit pārśvam, region of the ribs, flank, side, from parśuḥ, rib) + hórra, hórri, penny.]
Word History: "Oh yes, Mater, we had a posh time of it down there." This sentence, found in a 1918 issue of the British satirical magazine Punch, contains one of the first known occurrences of the word posh. A popular theory holds that posh is an acronym of the words Port Out, Starboard Home denoting the cooler side of ships traveling from England to India and back again in the 1800s. Cabins on the cooler side of the ship were more expensive, and POSH was supposedly stamped on the tickets of first-class passengers traveling on that side of ships owned by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. Although this theory of the origin of posh has caught the public's etymological fancy, no known evidence supports it. Instead, the likely source of the word is the 19th-century British slang word posh meaning "money," specifically "a halfpenny, cash of small value." (In British slang of the period, posh could also mean "a dandy"—a sense that also suggests a possible connection with the later posh, "fashionable or luxurious.") Posh meaning "money" (and perhaps also ultimately the posh meaning "a dandy," too) is of Romani origin, like a number of other English slang words such as nark ("an informer"), pal, and shiv. Posh originated as a shortening of a Romani word meaning "halfpenny" that is recorded, for example, as posh-hórri in a 19th-century glossary of words from the variety of Romani used by the Romani people of England. Posh in this compound word means "half," while hórri is a form of hórra, "penny." The Romani people descend from peoples who originally lived in South Asia but migrated westward, probably after around ad 1000, and the Romani language is descended from Sanskrit just like many of the modern languages spoken in South Asia, such as Hindi, Urdu, and Bengali. English Romani posh, "half," descends from the Sanskrit word pārśam, meaning "side." In this way, the word posh does in fact have a distant connection to India.