Posted by Masakim on March 21, 2002

In Reply to: Dosh posted by R. Berg on March 21, 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 Classical 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 (A 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."

Many American dictionaries certainly don't know where it comes from. Come to think of it, the OED doesn't know, either. What is known is that _dosh_ is first recorded in 1914 with the meaning "a bivvy; a temporary shelter or tent". Prior to that it was doss, as in _doss-house_. It is thought that that word derives ultimately from _dorsum_ "back", presumably because one would sleep on one's back (on the ground) in a temporary shelter.
_Dosh_ "money" dates from about 1944. Some etymologists think it may come from _doss_ "bivvy", the notion of _dosh_ being one of "money to pay for room and board (a place to "bivvy" or sleep)", while others think it is a conflation of _dollars_ and _cash_. This latter would suggest an American origin, perhaps plausible given the word's appearance in around 1944, but it is unlikely as it is unknown in the U.S.
As neither of these explanations is satisfactory, we would like to propose another. It is possible that this is a modern version of _dash_ meaning a "tip" or "gratuity". _Dash_ is believed to derive from _dashee_, a West African word that first appeared in print in 1788. A commentator on the African slave trade noted that _dashes_ were made to "the Kings of Bonny". We presume that the kingdom of "Bonny" was the extensive African civilization which we now refer to as Benin.
From Take Our Word For It (August 21, 2000)