ki·​bosh | \ ˈkī-ˌbäsh How to pronounce kibosh (audio) , kī-ˈbäsh How to pronounce kibosh (audio) , ki-ˈbäsh \

Definition of kibosh

: something that serves as a check or stop usually used in the phrase put the kibosh on Inevitably, though, another recession will come putting the kibosh on job and income growth …— Joseph Spiers

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Other Words from kibosh

kibosh transitive verb

The Mysterious Origins of Kibosh

Kibosh has been a part of our language for almost two centuries, but its origin baffles etymologists. It was prominent enough in lower-class London speech to attract the attention of Charles Dickens, who used it in 1836 in an early sketch, but little else is certain. Claims were once made that it was Yiddish, despite the absence of a plausible Yiddish source. Another hypothesis points to Gaelic caidhp bháis—pronounced similarly to, and meaning, "coif of death"—explained as headgear a judge put on when pronouncing a death sentence, or as a covering pulled over the face of a corpse when a coffin was closed. But evidence for any metaphorical use of this phrase in Irish is lacking, and kibosh is not recorded as spoken in Ireland until decades after Dickens' use.

Examples of kibosh in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The deal ultimately fell apart when Texas politicians and other industry power players got involved in keeping the Big 12 together and putting the kibosh on Scott’s grand plan. John Talty |, al, 29 July 2021 Many fans and detractors have assumed that Tesla will eventually offer the Model S with a traditional wheel, but Musk recently put the kibosh on that with a terse tweet to an online query. Elana Scherr, Car and Driver, 27 July 2021 Between 2009-12, before the NFL put the kibosh on such things, the Falcons busted out their original red helmet-black jersey look. Jim Reineking, USA TODAY, 25 June 2021 The league put the kibosh on Monday’s Pelicans-Spurs matchup because neither team had eight available players. Christian Clark,, 26 Jan. 2021 But one by one, skyrocketing COVID-19 infections in Maryland put the kibosh on the groups’ hopes, though most are attempting to connect with their patrons by providing online entertainment. Mary Carole Mccauley,, 14 Dec. 2020 The pandemic put the kibosh on that trip, but Johnson stood by her commitment to me via Zoom. Cheryl Hall, Dallas News, 13 Dec. 2020 Tulane coach Will Fritz put the kibosh on any discussion about the replacement for Will Hall on Thursday, but all signs point to former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long. G Smith,, 3 Dec. 2020 The coronavirus has put the kibosh on Carnival parades this year. Doug Maccash | Staff Writer,, 19 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'kibosh.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of kibosh

1830, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for kibosh

of obscure origin

Note: A number of etymologies are summarized by Anatoly Liberman in online postings to the OUPblog maintained by Oxford University Press ("Unable to put the kibosh on a hard word," May 19, 2010; "Monthly gleanings," July 28, 2010; "Three recent theories of 'kibosh'," August 14, 2013; "Etymology gleanings," November 29, 2017). The recent theories to which he alludes see the following as sources for kibosh: the heraldic term caboched, caboshed "(of an animal's head) borne full-face without the neck showing"; kibosh as a term for an iron bar used by clogmakers in the north of England (apparently first attested in 1860); Arabic kurbāj, kirbāj "whip, lash" and its source, Turkish kırbaç. The latter hypothesis is argued at length in a monograph by Gerald Cohen, Stephen Goranson and Matthew Little, Origin of Kibosh (Routledge, 2017), which also summarizes recently found antedatings to citations of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary (dating the word with certainty to 1834, and perhaps to 1830). Pace the authors' enthusiasm, the Arabic/Turkish origin is questionable: if Charles Dickens' 1835 recording of the word as "kye-bosh" accurately reflects the vowel and accent of the first syllable (according with the current pronunciation), the phonetic gap between the source and the English word is difficult to bridge; and the authors suggest no mechanism by which an assumed loanword from the eastern Mediterranean could have found its way into the speech of lower London social strata. Liberman may well be correct that "with the present evidence at our disposal, the chance of unearthing the origin of kibosh is vanishingly small."

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Last Updated

4 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Kibosh.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

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