[Slang] nosh

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  • aloner

    Member
    English / UK
    Hi. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

    Etymology: Yiddish nashn, from Middle High German naschen to eat on the sly.

    As to whether it has any taboo associated with it, I'm not exactly sure what you mean, but in the UK "nosh" is also used as slang for an act of fellation.
     

    twinklestar

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Hi. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

    Etymology: Yiddish nashn, from Middle High German naschen to eat on the sly.

    As to whether it has any taboo associated with it, I'm not exactly sure what you mean, but in the UK "nosh" is also used as slang for an act of fellation.
    Hi aloner,

    Thank you for your reply. I'll use Merriam-Webster online dictionary by myself next time.

    Some slang words are offensive or vulgar, but some dictionaries don't pinpoint out that. I just want to make sure whether I can use it safely or not. For instance, I once said 'chin up', and I meant cheer up; but a little bird told me it contains vulgar connotation in the slang, and let me drop it.
     

    MarcB

    Senior Member
    US English
    In the US it has no negative connotation that I know of. It is more often used in areas with large Jewish populations since it comes from Yiddish, it is used by both Jews and gentiles, however less by younger people. I have found that some people in rural areas do not know the word at all.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Some slang words are offensive or vulgar, but some dictionaries don't pinpoint out that. I just want to make sure whether I can use it safely or not. For instance, I once said 'chin up', and I meant cheer up; but a little bird told me it contains vulgar connotation in the slang, and let me drop it.
    I don't think nosh is vulgar: I'd say it's usually used humorously. Like cycloneviv, I haven't heard it used to refer to fellatio, but I imagine any word relating to eating could be used in that way.

    I've no idea what the vulgar connotation of "chin up" could be:confused:
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I don't think nosh is vulgar: I'd say it's usually used humorously. Like cycloneviv, I haven't heard it used to refer to fellatio, but I imagine any word relating to eating could be used in that way.

    I've no idea what the vulgar connotation of "chin up" could be:confused:
    Nosh sounds perfectly innocuous to me too, Twinkle. It doesn't particularly mean (perform) fellatio in my experience.
    (Perhaps you'd like to open a separate thread on the subject of chin up / cheer up ~ I'm intrigued by this too.)
     

    twinklestar

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Hi guys,

    Thanks a lot for your answers.

    I don't have any question on "chin up" in its connotation in reference to the slang, which someone has explained to me. That is just an example to illustrate why I asked any taboo I should know about 'nosh'.
     
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    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Note from a once-upon-a-time Yiddish speaker - no negative connotations that I know of, but when people use the word while speaking English there is often a slightly humorous intent.
     

    Teafrog

    Senior Member
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    I would only say that "nosh" is colloquial and should be used accordingly. I've never heard it used to mean fellatio, but that might just be me...
    :tick: I agree, on both counts. Nosh is still used, despite what they say here, and I understand it to mean "quick and cheap food of an average quality".
     

    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    A "nosh" in my house always was used to indicate a snack or something similar; my father was a Yiddish, German, and Russian speaker, as well as English, and it was his word. None of the rest of us used it.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Interesting - Teafrog's link to the Cambridge Advanced learner's Dictionary shows that there is a distinct difference in meaning between AmE and BrE:
    noun
    1 [C or U] UK OLD-FASHIONED SLANG food or a meal:
    They serve good nosh in the cafeteria.

    2 US INFORMAL a small amount of food eaten between meals or as a meal:
    I'll just have a little nosh at lunchtime, perhaps a hot dog.

    verb INFORMAL
    to eat:

    In BrE, there's no suggestion of a small amount of food - in fact, rather the opposite.
    I suppose it is slightly old-fashioned in BrE, but I agree with Teafrog that it's still in use.
     

    aloner

    Member
    English / UK
    For the British posters who've replied:

    I don't know if you've heard of world snooker champion Ronnie O'Sullivan, but he got himself into trouble earlier this year after making "lewd remarks" to a Chinese journalist at a tournament press conference in Beijing. Among the things he said, believing that his microphone was switched off, was "Does anyone want to give me a nosh?" Guardian article: guardian.co.uk/sport/2008/mar/27/snooker.davidhendon.

    I'm surprised that people haven't heard the word "nosh" used in this way. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Slang, its first recorded use with this meaning is from 1965, and it's not just a regional thing either (in the UK, I mean).
     

    aloner

    Member
    English / UK
    Possibly ;), but I can remember hearing "nosh" used with that meaning (in a humorous way) in the school playground about 15 years ago, so it's not something I've, er, picked up recently... Also, I'm a Lancastrian like you, whereas O'Sullivan is from Essex, so maybe it's more of a generational thing as he is about the same age as me.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Virtually any word can be suggestive, depending upon context, intonation, leering, etc.

    I grew up in Chicago and Los Angeles where Yiddish terms are part of the local speech and never, ever, heard "noshing" to mean anything other than "snacking." (whoops, I see now that that can be taken the wrong way as well)
     

    aloner

    Member
    English / UK
    Virtually any word can be suggestive, depending upon context, intonation, leering, etc.
    I agree but, as mentioned, "nosh" with that specific meaning (to fellate) is included in the Oxford Dictionary of Slang (my version published in 1998) with a first recorded usage of 1965, so it's not something I've just come up with. I was quite surprised that the other British forum users were not familiar with it, as I didn't think it was a word that only young-ish people used in that way. In fact, I can't imagine teenagers today using "nosh" with that meaning (or at all), it seems to me something more typical of the 70s or 80s (in Britain). By the way, I couldn't find "snacking" with any sexual meaning in my decade-old slang dictionary, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was included in the 2008 edition. :D

    It's a sad fact that most of English Only's self-appointed experts are a bunch of old fuddy-duddies:D
    Age/experience brings wisdom, I guess. ;)
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The Oxford, or any other dictionary, is written by homo sapiens who carry with them all the frailties of the human psyche. It was not dictated by God to Moses and neither was it engraved on golden tablets to be discovered by Joseph Smith.

    On this forum, you have acess to the wisdom of many highly intelligent and perceptive contributors, some of whom have worked professionally with the English language and some whose fascination and affection with the world's most effective means of communicaiton is an avocation.

    If our experience does not coincide with that of the writers of the OED and its derivatives, you may reject it, but I suggest that you do not do so out-of-hand.
     

    aloner

    Member
    English / UK
    Hmm, thanks for the advice. I wouldn't reject the experience of the learned members of this forum just because of what it says in a dictionary, but as I am from the UK, have lived here all my life and have heard the word in question used in a slang context with the abovementioned meaning thousands of times, I'm not inclined to reject my own personal experience either. I mentioned the fact that the word also appears in a slang dictionary published by a well-respected academic press and gave the web address of an article in which a foul-mouthed outburst (containing this word used in the mentioned way) by a well-known British sporting figure was reported earlier this year in a national newspaper, because I think that in language forum it's good to back up what you say with credible sources. Of course, the OP (who was curious about a possible slang meaning for this word) is free to ignore all of the above and just go along with what the forum experts say.
     
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    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    in language forum it's good to back up what you say with credible sources
    Here's one to back you ~ and the OED;) ~ up, Aloner:
    nosh n. 1 [1910s] a delicatessen. 2 [1950s+] food, esp. a snack [...]
    nosh v. 1 [1950s+] to snack, to eat between meals. 2 [1960s+] to practise fellatio. [Yid. nosh, to snack and Ger. naschen, to nibble, to eat surreptitiously; mainly US but note The Nosh Bar, a long-lived delicatessen/café in Great Windmill Street, Soho, London; (2) is pun on (1)]
    ~The Cassell Dictionary of Slang, ed. Jonathon Green, London, 1998

    I rest your case:D
     

    una madre

    Senior Member
    Western Canada English
    Hi! Could someone explain how/why 'nosh' refers to food? Is there any taboo I should about it?

    Thanks!
    Hi twinklestar,
    I'd be interested to know where you came upon this word. When I read your post I immediately thought of food but I don't know why.
     

    Teafrog

    Senior Member
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    I found these entries in the Dict of Slang and the Urban Dict, which give credence to Aloner's points, see here and here (No 4).

    I'd like to point out these dicts are not 'on my bedside table' ;), which is perhaps why I had never heard that meaning. To me, "nosh" always has been and only will be "quick food" or just "a bit of food".
     

    Broccolicious

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Possibly ;), but I can remember hearing "nosh" used with that meaning (in a humorous way) in the school playground about 15 years ago, so it's not something I've, er, picked up recently... Also, I'm a Lancastrian like you, whereas O'Sullivan is from Essex, so maybe it's more of a generational thing as he is about the same age as me.
    Hello all

    I've heard it too, but it doesn't seem to be commonly known. I remember a particularly excruciating meeting, back in the days when I worked in advertising, in which it fell to me to explain to a client why 'Nosh' wouldn't be a good name for a new brand of microwaveable pie, and why the line "My son is always asking me for a Nosh - and I'll do anything to keep him happy" would NOT play well with some TV audiences! :eek:
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    There are several food business in Australia with Nosh in the name: Posh Nosh Café, Nosh Deli, Niche Nosh Café.

    The BBC did a comedy mocking celebrity chefs called "Posh Nosh".

    I don't think that any of the above imply oral sex.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There are also lots of restaurants in the UK with nosh in their name. Take a look at some of the 110,000 Google-reported UK links for nosh restaurant.

    It is very clear from what people have said here and from the reliable external sources they quote that nosh is used in a sexual context.
    However, as with many such words, it is still used a great deal with its original sense.
     

    twinklestar

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Hi twinklestar,
    I'd be interested to know where you came upon this word. When I read your post I immediately thought of food but I don't know why.
    I probably first came across it from American cartoon--The Simpsons. I am not sure. I wrote it down in my English learning notebook. And I went over them recently.
     

    csigabori

    New Member
    Hungarian
    In one of the scenes of the film It's all gone, Pete Tong, the verb DOES refer to fellation. The film's British, so I suppose it's BE.
     
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