skosh

HSS

Senior Member
Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
Is it safe to use 'a skosh' in English; in other words, do you still use it? I particularly wonder if it is used elsewhere other than in the United States. I know it is a word borrowed from the Japanese phrase, 'sukoshi,' meaning 'a little' and was brought back home by troops who had been stationed in Japan during the post World War II era.

A: I'm a skosh hungry.
B: Want to grab pizza? We have a skosh left in the fridge.
 
  • Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    All the other examples in the link are familiar to me but I did not know any of them were from the Japanese so I have learned something. I would have thought honcho was Spanish! It's possible skosh lives on somewhere but it is not in general use like the other examples.

    Ok I googled this and apparently it is in use in the Midwest United States. However I googled "just a skosh" and got three pages of links to dictionaries and definitions but no actual usages of it. That might be my personalized algorithm but it also suggests it is regional slang not in common use.
     
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    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I have definitely heard it used but I have never seen it spelled. That might be part of the problem - the potential lack of a commonly known, standard spelling of a word primarily spoken.

    See this thread as an example of that phenomenon:
    wail on my pecs [whale on / wale on]

    To me it doesn't sound unusual even if it's not said all that often.

    "What do you think of this jacket?"
    "It looks like it's a skosh(sp?) too big for you."

    "Did I add enough milk?" (When learning how to cook a particular dish.)
    "I'd add a skosh more."

    There are eight examples in the COCA database from the last twelve years.

    "The Subie [Subaru Forester] got a full makeover for 2003, including a softer shape, slicker interior and a skosh more room for people and stuff."

    A Google result labels it "informal · US".
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    A previous discussion. 8 English Words From Japanese (tycoon, honcho, skosh, kudzu, ramen, futon, rickshaw, and sudoku)

    WRF labels it as "slang" but I'd prefer to label it informal myself
    WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2019
    skosh (skōsh), n. [Slang.] a bit; a jot: We need just a skosh more room
    I am familiar with it from learning Japanese but more so with my connection to the west coast Japanese American community, where it's common (the exended family and friends of my wife who is Sansei - 3rd generation Japanese American). I've also heard it from those not connected to the same social group but more rarely. I am not at all surprised that it is new to many members here:)
     

    reno33

    Banned
    English - USA
    As a trooper in Korea (post Korean Conflict) , I used the term (skosh) all the time [to mean: [ a little (bit)] without giving thought to its origin. But I've never used or heard it in the US itself. (Similar to another importation from Japanese/Korean.........same-o same-o (incorrectly used in current USA English as ("same-old, same-old)
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    And I have no Japanese connection.
    Nor had the people I heard it from, but less frequently than those with the connection, so the word has definitely penetrated some circles of English speakers, but not as much as typhoon, honcho and some others. (See the other thread linked in #9 for some geographical hints:))
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    same-o same-o (incorrectly used in current USA English as ("same-old, same-old)
    Interesting - I thought it was the other way round. (OED dates "same old, same old" from US jazz band usage in the 1950/60s.)

    Rushing to stay on topic:eek: - I've never heard "skosh".
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I've heard it many times, but I can't think of any time that was very recent. I think I've heard it a lot on cooking shows - someone like Rachel Ray or Paula Deen, perhaps - "Add a skosh of heavy cream", etc.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Your linked Ngram is set to "English", but if we re-set it to "British English" it finds some occurrences of "skosh." I'd never come across the word.
    I'm never quite convinced by Ngram's division between BrE and AmE. The actual examples in the links under the graph look very AmE to me...
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I'm never quite convinced by Ngram's division between BrE and AmE. The actual examples in the links under the graph look very AmE to me...
    The links under the graph are to Google Books date-bounded searches, not to searches of the regional ngram databases. So it doesn't matter which version of English your ngram is based on, many of the examples will be AE.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thanks, Andy.
    Do you know any way to access the source material used for the language-specific graphs?
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    If you search for information about the Google ngram you will find that you can download the datasets. I've no idea what format they come in. The various English datasets are one of the tools the OED uses to allocate words to frequency bands.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I first came across the word a few years ago when a casual-wear jeans company described the hip area of their jeans as having a "skosh more room", for a more comfortable fit.

    I had to look up the word at that time.

    I've seen it many times since, but I refrain from using it.

    The etymology is interesting in part because we have so few words from the Korean.

    skosh | Origin and meaning of skosh by Online Etymology Dictionary

    skosh
    "a little bit," Korean War armed forces slang, from Japanese sukoshi "few, little, some."


    However this etymology credits it from the Japanese: Etymology of the Day: Skosh

    During the occupation of Japan at the end of World War II, US forces borrowed some vocabulary from Japanese. One word was sukoshi (寡し, 少し), meaning “little” or “few,” variously used of quantities, time, and distances. Americans dropped the u and i, yielding skosh.

    US fighters brought skosh over to the Korean War in the early 1950s and then back home. The Oxford English Dictionary first cites the word in Arthur Norman’s 1955 article in American Speech, “Bamboo English: The Japanese Influence Upon American Speech in Japan.”


    Note: I do wonder if "Bamboo English" is politically correct.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I'm never quite convinced by Ngram's division between BrE and AmE. The actual examples in the links under the graph look very AmE to me...
    Indeed.
    Not only that, the Ngram classification is based on publication city, not an assessment of the language form used. Pick any word spelt differently in AE and BE and you will find the AE version present in the "BE" results, seemingly increasing as publication locations became more "globalized" (the example word is colo(u)r). I wrote to the main author suggesting they re-analyse after assessing the source texts based in the spelling variants present but received no reply :(
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The British National Corpus has no record of skosh. And even the American COCA corpus only has 8 examples. The Wikipedia corpus has 5 examples, 2 of them specific to the context of Japanese loanwords.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
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    The shirt we’ve chosen is very flattering as the colored piping accentuates our fabulous pickleball figures! These shirts have a nice stretchy feel to them. However, they do run a skosh smaller than “true-to-size”. ( I know, I know – what the he&^%$ does skosh mean – it’s a pinch, or a wee bit, tiny) 🙂
     
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