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Kibosh - the definitive origin?

Posted by James Briggs on September 01, 2004

Consequent to my previous posting from The Times, the following appeared in today's edition. This seems a very likely source of the word; on the other hand, perhaps it's just some Irish blarney!!

Further to your previous replies (August 30), kibosh is of Irish origin. It is Cork City slang coming from the Irish for cabbage, cabáiste, pronounced ki-boshta. From about 1750 to 1914 there was a large cabbage market in Cork City in the Kohl Quay (now known as Coal Quay); large amounts of cabbage were exported to the German states and the Low Countries. The cabbages were auctioned off and bought by the various merchants and brokers in a large warehouse.
To start the auction a large hollow silver cabbage (the Cabáiste) was placed on the auction block and next to it a sample cabbage from the lot to be sold. When the auction was finished the Cabáiste was then placed over the cabbage on display. This was known as putting the Cabáiste on it. Over the years this came to be pronounced "kibosh" on the streets and meant the finish or the end of something. Up until 1922 many English regiments served in Cork City and many West Country regiments of foot must have been there. They would have used the slang and taken it with them to their native shore.
Alas, the cabbage market had the kibosh put on it at the commencement of the First World War, as this meant an end to trading with the Continent of Europe.
Donal Og O'Hescain, Lissardagh, Co Cork.