Alternative Title

Kibosh Update #4 (Compilation)


Gerald Cohen


It has been ten years since Matthew Little sent me his suggestion that ‘kibosh’ in ‘put the kibosh on’ derives from the fearsome Mideastern whip known as the kurbash; Stephen Goranson soon thereafter independently made the same suggestion in messages to the American Dialect Society, gradually adding the important initial discoveries to buttress that proposal.

The three of us wound up collaborating on ‘kibosh,’ first in Comments on Etymology and then in our 2017 book Origin of Kibosh. Updates continued to appear in COE as various scholars weighed in and some new material appeared. It is time now to compile all the new material and the scholarly reactions (with responses where appropriate); hence the present COE issue.

The overall picture is that the scholarly jury is still out as to whether ‘kibosh’ in ‘put the kibosh on’ derives from ‘kurbash’ (fearsome Mideastern whip), but this proposal has been steadily gaining ground; the evidence for it, when compiled, does seem convincing. But the subject of ‘kibosh’ has many aspects, and improvement/new insight is always possible (and welcome).


Arts, Languages, and Philosophy

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© 2019 Gerald Cohen, Stephen Goranson, Matthew Little, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 May 2019