Word of the Day : December 29, 2017

pooh-bah

play
noun POO-bah

Definition

1 : a person holding many public or private offices

2 : a person in high position or of great influence

Did You Know?

The original Pooh-Bah was an arrogant, buffoonish bureaucrat introduced in the 1885 Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Mikado. In that show, the character Pooh-Bah, whose title is "Lord High Everything Else," very "humbly" agrees to accept several important government offices (and their salaries) after a series of officials resign. He'll do anything if the bribe is big enough, and he loves to strut and show off to anyone who might be impressed by his grandeur. It didn't take English speakers long to adopt pooh-bah as a term for someone who holds either many offices or a high position, and the word still often carries a suggestion of pompousness.


Examples

"Samuel Goldwyn was so impressed with the film, he sent a fan letter to Paramount's grand pooh-bah, Barney Balaban…." — Sam Irvin, Kay Thompson: From Funny Face to Eloise, 2010

"One day, Silicon Valley pooh-bahs may persuade the safe-space generation to completely abandon personal driving. Until that time, the car will persist as a symbol of freedom and the American automotive industry will endure as a major economic player." — Jonathan Kellerman, The New York Times, 9 July 2017



Name That Synonym

What synonym of pooh-bah begins with "h" and is derived from a Japanese word meaning "squad leader"?

VIEW THE ANSWER

Podcast


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!