bak·​sheesh ˈbak-ˌshēsh How to pronounce baksheesh (audio)
: payment (such as a tip or bribe) to expedite service

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British subjects traveling abroad in the 17th century likely picked up baksheesh in Asia, where they would have heard the term used to mean "gratuity, a present of money, tip"—a meaning they directly adopted. Etymologically speaking, baksheesh is from Persian bakhshīsh, which is also the source of the word buckshee, meaning "something extra obtained free," "extra rations," or "windfall, gratuity." Buckshee never made it across the pond to the U.S., and is strictly used in British English.

Examples of baksheesh in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In Syria, this would have taken days if not weeks, and would have required considerable baksheesh (bribes), which necessarily accompanies every government task big and small. Firmin Debrabander, The New Republic, 7 Nov. 2022 In Cairo baksheesh is the simplest way to cut through the airport’s tangle of red tape. The Economist, 29 June 2019 Mr. Trump was a chieftain demonstrating his potency with a flourish of baksheesh. James Poniewozik, New York Times, 9 Mar. 2016

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'baksheesh.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Persian bakhshīsh, from bakhshīdan to give; akin to Greek phagein to eat, Sanskrit bhajati he allots

First Known Use

1686, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of baksheesh was in 1686


Dictionary Entries Near baksheesh

Cite this Entry

“Baksheesh.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

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