The Origins of POSH

Where does the word POSH come from?


The word posh has been in use in modern English since the 1910s. There is a story, that tells of well-to-do passengers who travelled between England and India had the word POSH written next to their names on bookings. POSH apparently stood for ‘Port Out, Starboard Home‘. The concept behind it was that the more desirable cabins were on the port side (left) which was the shady part of the ship and starboard (right side) travelling back to England.


POSH has its beginnings as an abbreviation, but the research team at the Oxford English Dictionary could not find any evidence of this; the researchers searched shipping company documents and even interviewed former travellers and found no evidence of its use.

What is also interesting is that the word had been in use for some twenty years until the story of its origins came into light in the 1930s. While the story is intriguing, it has yet to be proven and so far, it has been debunked. Oh dear!


Source: OED, Oxford English Dictionary Language Resources