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

UPDATED (October 25 2015)

dosh ‎(uncountable)

  1. (Britain, slang) Money

Etymology Unknown. Possibly a combination of dough and cash

  • 1
    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." Apr 18, 2011 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. May 25, 2011 at 22:22
  • I just don't think that it could possibly came from doss house. It is an Americanized german word of Dosch
    – user64744
    Feb 4, 2014 at 19:43

3 Answers 3


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.

  • +1, nice answer; unfortunately, I'm out of votes for the day...
    – Uticensis
    Apr 17, 2011 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, 2011 at 20:23
  • +1 I found a similar explanation in Eric Partridge's dictionary "Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English. Apr 19, 2011 at 22:33
  • 1
    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, 2013 at 21:06

Tony Thorne, The Dictionary of Contemporary Slang (1990) repeats one of the origin theories that Partridge notes (as quoted in user3286's answer), but also suggests an alternative involving "the African colonial term dash":

dosh n British[:] money. This is a working-class term from the early 1950s which was falling out of use in the 1960s, but which, like many similar words (bunce, loot, lolly, etc.), was revived in the money conscious late 1980s. It is a favourite with alternative comedians and 'professional cockneys'. The original would seem logically to be the old African colonial term dash, denoting a tip or bribe, but other authorities claim that it is influenced by doss [defined in its own entry as meaning "a place to sleep," "a period of sleep," or "a very easy task"], in the sense of the price of a bed (for the night).

John Ayto & John Simpson, The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang (1992), meanwhile, stick to the OED line of "origin unknown":

dosh noun Money 1953–. ** 'America! The money's in America!' ... ''Tis true. The Yankees have the dosh all right' (1970) {Origin unknown}


DOSH = bangla for TEN that's where it comes from. It was picked up during the time when the The British East India Company was running the show out there, just like CHA was picked up for tea.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.