posh image from New Medical Terms



adjective Referring to the upper (socioeconomic) class in the UK.

While in America, medical doctors are regarded as upper middle class to frankly upper class–e.g., neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons, a stratum that is entirely based on wealth, in the UK, unless their family has land and/or a title, British doctors are regarded as middle class, i.e., rarely posh. Americans and other colonials are never posh. 

Etymologists generally regard it as a false acronym based on a popular myth related to voyages between India and Britain on Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company ships. Per legend, tickets for those in first class cabins (“posh” passengers) were stamped POSH so that they’d be given deck chairs by the staff that were shaded from the sun, depending on the direction the ship was headed across the Indian Ocean, as in “port outbound, starboard homebound”. The tickets became collectables among wealthy English travellers and POSH became synonymous with fashion and luxury. Peninsular and Oriental repeatedly denied they had such a practice, so the true origin of posh is uncertain.

However, the 1968 musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s song, Posh! sealed its fate (see lyrics) and the folklore is unlikely to completely die.

This is livin’, this is style, this is elegance by the mile

Oh the posh posh traveling life, the traveling life for me

First cabin and captain’s table regal company

Whenever I’m bored I travel abroad but ever so properly

Port out, starboard home, posh with a capital P-O-S-H, posh

The OED weighed in on the matter, postulating a link to Romani half-penny or to Urdu safed–one who wears “white robes”. 

Reference www.worldsstrangest.com/mental-floss/7-false-acronyms/

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