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 onInevitably, 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 And yet, with Doppler radar technology and other tools at their disposal, meteorologists can change course in a matter of hours, reverse dire predictions and warnings, and put the kibosh on people’s plans. Pat Lenhoff,, "Column: Meteorologists’ dire (and inaccurate) forecasts ruined my Chicago Bears tailgate experience," 4 Sep. 2019 But Santa Monica police had to put the kibosh on a promotion for 30-cents-per-gallon gas that ended up snarling traffic for several hours. Julia Wickstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: California sues Trump over ‘public charge’ rule," 17 Aug. 2019 New Hampshire Pittsfield: The state has put the kibosh on a farm stand’s ice cream made from raw milk. USA TODAY, "Charlottesville remembered, drive-thru ban, ketchup karma: News from around our 50 states," 13 Aug. 2019 Why would Washington put the kibosh on Yankoff’s request? Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, "Hotline newsletter: NCAA sanctions imposed, Petersen blocks Yankoff, camp updates, iconic moments and more," 9 Aug. 2019 The Navy has formally put the kibosh on zombie ships rejoining the fleet. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Navy Won’t Bring Back Mothballed Ships to Boost the Fleet," 21 Feb. 2019 Murphy, in his litigation, points out that Ares, then in the process of acquiring ACAS, put the kibosh on a previous deal to sell both the candy business and the real estate to a different buyer, one that could have kept Necco afloat. Jon Chesto,, "Necco dispute clears hurdle in bankruptcy court," 24 July 2019 My internal medicine physician and my cardiologist, Dr. No Fun, have put the kibosh on that pleasure (and many others), but the North End gives license for judicious exceptions. Alan Behr,, "Getting a taste of Italy on a trip to Boston," 17 July 2019 Crucially, though, inflation dropped sharply and the commission put the official kibosh (pdf) on a return to a fixed metallic standard. Gwynn Guilford, Quartz, "The quiet campaign to reinstate the gold standard is getting louder," 3 July 2019

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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The first known use of kibosh was in 1830

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