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90s Slang You Should Know

Pooh Bah

[poo bah] /ˈpu ˌbɑ/
noun, (often lowercase)
a person who holds several positions, especially ones that give him or her bureaucratic importance.
a leader, authority, or other important person:
one of the pooh bahs of the record industry.
a pompous, self-important person.
Also, Pooh-Bah, poobah.
Origin of Pooh Bah
First recorded in 1880-85; after a character in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, who holds all of the high offices of state simultaneously and uses them for personal gain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pooh-bah
Historical Examples
  • In every community like this you'll find one local 'pooh-bah' who runs things pretty much as he likes.

  • But pooh-bah declares "I must set bounds to my insatiable ambition."

    The Secrets of a Savoyard Henry A. Lytton
  • This is what pooh-bah calls "corroborative detail intended to give artistic verisimilitude to a bald and unconvincing narrative."

  • A corporation is not a commercial pooh-bah, divided into unrelated sections.

    The Promise Of American Life Herbert David Croly
  • Great should be the gratitude of passage-selling Combines to pooh-bah; and they ought to cherish his memory when he dies.

  • pooh-bah, it seems that the festivities in connection with my approaching marriage must last a week.

  • pooh-bah will do a better job than I could,” Fay assured him.

  • Every one of us, or almost every one of us, does in reality fulfil almost as many offices as pooh-bah.

    Varied Types G. K. Chesterton
  • Fay sighed and gave simultaneously with pooh-bah the now-familiar triple-jointed shrug.

  • Instead of being “a very powerful chief having many Indians under his control”—a kind of “pooh-bah”—he was merely a pioneer.

    Inca Land Hiram Bingham
British Dictionary definitions for pooh-bah


a pompous self-important official holding several offices at once and fulfilling none of them
Word Origin
C19: after the character, the Lord-High-Everything-Else, in The Mikado (1885), a light opera by Gilbert and Sullivan
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pooh-bah

"leader who maintains excessive bureaucratic control," 1888, from Pooh-Bah, the name of the "Lord High Everything Else" character in Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado" (1885).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pooh-bah in Culture

Pooh-Bah definition

A self-important person of high position and great influence. Pooh-Bah is a character in Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta The Mikado; his title is Lord-High-Everything-Else.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for pooh-bah



An important person; a self-important person; big shot, honcho, vip: where presidents and pooh-bahs commune

[1888+; fr the character in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado who holds many high offices, the name probably coined fr two exclamations of contempt and derision]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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