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Neither Wikitionary nor The Online Etymology Dictionary seem to know anything.

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I did not even know that word but I found this page with many more... As for "dosh" the interesting part is "Almost certainly and logically derived from the slang 'doss-house', meaning a very cheap hostel or room, from Elizabethan England when 'doss' was a straw bed, from 'dossel' meaning bundle of straw, in turn from the French 'dossier' meaning bundle. Dosh appears to have originated in this form in the US in the 19th century, and then re-emerged in more popular use in the UK in the mid-20th century." –  Alain Pannetier Φ Apr 18 '11 at 5:20
watching again the 2005 BBC adaptation of Bleak House, I've come across the phrase "sixpenny doss-houses" (when Lady Dedlock is nowhere to be found and Inspector Bucket lists all the places he has visited to try to find her). You might have noticed it as well. –  Alain Pannetier Φ May 25 '11 at 22:22

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Chambers Dictionary 11th Ed.:

ORIGIN: Poss *do*llars and ca*sh*

Partridge Dictionary of Slang:

Possibly a combination of dollars and cash; there are also suggestions that the etymology leads back to doss (temporary accommodation), hence, it has been claimed, the money required to doss, or Scottish dialect doss (tobacco pouch, a purse containing something of value) – note, too, that tobacco is related to money via quid. US dosh didn’t survive but in mid-C20 UK and Australia the word was resurrected, or coincidentally recoined US, 1854

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary 8th Ed.:

1950s: of unknown origin

Oxford English Dictionary:

Origin unknown.

1953 H. Clevely Public Enemy xviii. 114 He hadn't enough dosh on him.

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+1, nice answer; unfortunately, I'm out of votes for the day... –  Uticensis Apr 17 '11 at 10:09
My guess would have been that it is cockney-yiddish in origin, but google doesn't turn up anything about that. –  Marcin Apr 17 '11 at 20:23
+1 I found a similar explanation in Eric Partridge's dictionary "Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English. –  Alain Pannetier Φ Apr 19 '11 at 22:33
I’m not sure about the purported link of dosh to doss. Doss house is still a term that is used in England, as is dosser (a tramp or a scruffy person) and doss down (sleep, usually at a temporary and improvised locale – similar to crash). These are pretty distant meanings to money. –  user45645 Jun 7 '13 at 21:06

I just don't think that it could possibly came from doss house. It is an Americanized german word of Dosch

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Please provide: 1) a definition of the 'german word of Dosch', 2) a source as evidence that this is the origin. Further, I'd suggest editing your answer to explain where the comment regarding a link to doss came from - it's best not to rely on users to read all other answers to understand your own. –  Doc Feb 4 '14 at 20:06
I've never once heard or saw Dosch in my life, and DWB only has it as a regional variation of Dorsch, "codfish". So what's left to explain is how a regional variation of the German word for "cod" that got Americanized went on to mean "money" in British slang. Not saying that that can't happen, but that's the explaining you've got to do. Otherwise this is but a random guess by a random person off the Internet. –  RegDwigнt Feb 5 '14 at 10:04

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