Origin of joss

1705–15; < Chinese Pidgin English < Portuguese deos < Latin deus god


noun British, Australian Informal.
  1. a foreman or boss.

Origin of joss

First recorded in 1855–60; origin uncertain Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for joss

Contemporary Examples of joss

Historical Examples of joss

  • The result was that Joss learned to read and write before the voyage was over.

  • She felt as astonished as if some Confucian fanatic had set up his joss at auction.

    The Coast of Chance

    Esther Chamberlain

  • "I should think Wang would like her, to put her in his Joss house," he said disrespectfully.

    In Blue Creek Caon

    Anna Chapin Ray

  • When they mounted the joss house stairs she lagged behind; and Bertram lagged with her.

  • That fellow has a Joss in his cabin, and very likely a prayer-wheel; but he's a capital cook.

    In the High Valley

    Susan Coolidge

British Dictionary definitions for joss


  1. a Chinese deity worshipped in the form of an idol

Word Origin for joss

C18: from pidgin English, from Portuguese deos god, from Latin deus
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

Word Origin and History for joss

"Chinese figure of a deity," 1711, from Chinese Pidgin English, from Javanese dejos, taken 16c. from Portuguese deus "god," from Latin deus (see Zeus). Colloquially, it came to mean "luck." Joss stick "Chinese incense" first recorded 1883.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper