• kibosh •
Pronunciation: kai-bahsh • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: (Slang) The permanent ending of something, making it impossible, as a heavy downpour can put the kibosh on a baseball game.
Notes: Today's Good Word is more a word of the spoken vernacular than of written English. For that reason, its spelling has varied quite a bit over the decades. Beginning with kye-bosk (see Word History), it has been spelled kyebosh, kye-bosh, and kybosh. Everyone generally agrees now on the spelling we are using, though some dictionaries accept kybosh as a variant.
In Play: Today's word is almost always heard in the idiomatic phrase, "put the kibosh on" something; however, it can be used outside this phrase: "If mom finds out we are planning a weekend at the shore, all our plans will get the old kibosh." The noun can also be used as a verb meaning "to end something permanently", as in "Greta Mae kiboshed the wedding plans when she learned that Archie was on Viagra."
Word History: Today's Good Word is of mysterious origin. It first appeared as kye-bosk in 1836 in the story 'Seven Dials' in Charles Dickens's Sketches by Boz. Although it looks Yiddish, the date of its origin makes a Yiddish source highly unlikely. A possible source is Irish caip bháis "cap of death", the reference of which would be unclear in this etymology: a judge's hat or a method of execution used by the British military? (We hope no one ever puts the kibosh on the flow of the Good Words like this one that we receive from Curtis Simple.)
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