• synonyms

Pooh Bah

[poo bah]
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noun (often lowercase)
  1. a person who holds several positions, especially ones that give him or her bureaucratic importance.
  2. a leader, authority, or other important person: one of the pooh bahs of the record industry.
  3. a pompous, self-important person.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for pooh-bah

Historical Examples

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

    The Creature from Cleveland Depths

    Fritz Reuter Leiber

  • But Pooh-Bah declares "I must set bounds to my insatiable ambition."

  • A corporation is not a commercial Pooh-Bah, divided into unrelated sections.

    The Promise Of American Life

    Herbert David Croly

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

  • Pooh-Bah finished page two and began to race through page three.

British Dictionary definitions for pooh-bah


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

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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pooh-bah in Culture


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.

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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.