Let’s face it—what do any of us really know about language? If you had a gun to your head, could you tell me the difference between “farther” or “further,” or spell “minuscule” correctly? To make matters worse, a lot of the things you think you know about words are probably wrong. In honor of National Grammar Day (March 4!) we’ll be debunking dialectical deceit all month on Woot. Was your ninth-grade English teacher’s classroom a house of lies? Find out from 74-time Jeopardy! champion (and self-proclaimed grammar Nazi) Ken Jennings.
Language Myth #2: “Posh” Stands for “Port Out, Starboard Home.”
Since the 1930s, people who like to seem “in the know” have been asserting that the adjective posh, meaning luxurious, is actually an acronym—that, in fact, it once stood for “port out, starboard home,” the shadier and therefore more expensive cabins to book on an ocean liner to and from India, an abbreviation which was stamped on first-class tickets. This folk etymology has worked its way into popular culture—I remember it as the chorus to the Sherman Brothers’ song “Posh!” from the not-otherwise-memorable score to the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.