Pooh Bah

or pooh bah, Pooh-Ba, poo·bah

[ poo-bah ]

  1. a person who holds several positions, especially ones that give bureaucratic importance.

  2. a leader, authority, or other important person: one of the Pooh Bahs of the record industry.

  1. a pompous, self-important person.

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

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use Pooh Bah in a sentence

  • The general housework servant has already been referred to as a Pooh Bah in petticoats.

    The Expert Maid-Servant | Cristine Terhune Herrick
  • But even as the Tinkletown Pooh-Bah posed in restful supremacy there were rushing down upon him affairs of the epoch-making kind.

    The Daughter of Anderson Crow | George Barr McCutcheon
  • The bystanders looked at one another blankly, and at last the concentrated gaze fell upon the Pooh-Bah of the town.

    The Daughter of Anderson Crow | George Barr McCutcheon
  • 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
  • We have allowed him to become a sort of autocrat, a golfing Pooh-Bah, a self-appointed committee of one with arbitrary powers.

    Fore! | Charles Emmett Van Loan

British Dictionary definitions for Pooh-Bah


/ (ˈpuːˈbɑː) /

  1. a pompous self-important official holding several offices at once and fulfilling none of them

Origin of Pooh-Bah

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

Cultural definitions for Pooh-Bah


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 New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.