phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: Dosh

Posted by ESC on March 22, 2002

In Reply to: Re: Pounds and quids posted by TheUnlurker on March 22, 2002

: : : : : : : : : : I am interested in the derivation of the word 'dosh ' meaning money.

: : : : : : : : : : Can anyone help?

: : : : : : : : : My 1994 Collin's Dictionary says: 'British and Australian slang for money. 20th century. Origin unknown.'
: : : : : : : : : Hopefully, others can do a bit better! It's not recorded in my copy of the '1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.'

: : : : : : : : I also am totally unable to track down any origins for dosh, but perhaps the following observation will soften the blow. We British have a huge number of slang terms for money or cash - to the extent that it's almost improbable. Wih no more than a moment's thought, I offer you the obvious "readies" and "wad", the more bizarre "wonga" and my personal utterly surreal favourite "spondoolicks" (sp?). There'll be plenty more - and this is before we even get into the slang for amounts of cash - monkeys and ponies, bottles, carpets and ladies to start with. But that's for another time.

: : : : : : : I have never heard the word used in the U.S. I did find it in an American slang reference book, but its origin is unknown. To me it has the sound of "carny talk."

: : : : : : Eric Partridge ("Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English") offers a speculation about its origin:
: : : : : : DOSH. Money, esp. cash: Australian juvenile: since ca. 1944. . . . Perhaps a blend of "DOllars" + "caSH."

: : : : : As long as we are on the subject, I'm curious about the word "quid". A quid, for those who aren't British, is a pound. It's sometimes referred to as a "squid" - just for fun as far as I can see. Has it always been a pound? It caused untold panic my first few days in London as I desperately studdied my money trying to find the quids.

: : : : Always a pound £ (money, not weight) but, sadly, another one with absolutely no known origin.

: : : Excuse me? The OED says "Originally, a pound weight of silver."

: : Given that banknotes are effectively promissory notes (to such an extent that UK banknotes still all have "I promise to pay the bearer the sum of x pounds" written upon them and are signed by the chief cashier of the Bank of England), I have always presumed that the word "quid" came directly from the still-used Latin phrase a quid pro quo, something given in exchange for something else.

: : Ms. Camel would have been even more confused had she come across the fairly recent coinages (no pun intended) of "squiddly" or even "squiddly diddly" to describe the simple pound sterling.

: Ollie Octopus bumps into Sidney Squid one day,
: "Hi Sidney, how are you?"
: "Ab not too good really I hab a bit of a cold."
: "That's just awful. Tell you what Sid, follow me."

: And Sid does. They arrive at Wille Whales place where Ollie announces:
: "Willie, here's the six quid I owe you".

: Sick quid == six quid, you see?
: Anyway that's where the jokey use of "squid" for "quid" comes from.

: I'm sure you all feel greatly enriched.

DOSH - "n British. Money. This is a working-class term from the early 1950s which was falling out of use in the 1960s, but which, like many similar words (bunce, loot, lolly, etc.) was revived in the money-conscious late 1980s. It is a favourite with alternative comedians and 'professional cockneys.' The original would seem logically to be the old African colonial term 'dash,' denoting a tip or bribe, but other authorities claim that it is influenced by 'doss,' in the sense of the price of a bed (for the night)." From "Dictionary of Contemporary Slang" by Tony Thorne (Pantheon Books, New York, 1990).