skosh

[ skohsh ]
/ skoʊʃ /

noun Slang.

a bit; a jot: We need just a skosh more room.

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Origin of skosh

From the Japanese word sukoshi a little (bit)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

BEHIND THE WORD

What does skosh mean?

A skosh is a slang term for an imprecise unit of measurement, meaning “a small amount.” 

Where does skosh come from?

The word skosh was popularized in the early 1950s, when American soldiers were fighting in the Korean War. They had adapted it from Japanese soldiers using the Japanese word for “a little”: sukoshi. GIs who heard sukoshi rendered it as skosh.

The soldiers used the term to refer to a small amount of something or as a modifier for something small (e.g., skosh wounds, meaning “minor wounds”). Soldiers also used skosh as an epithet for a short soldier.

When the Korean War ended, skosh spread throughout the United States as soldiers returned home. Since then, it has become a staple of casual English usage as a synonym for a “touch,” “jot,” or “smidgen.”

How is skosh used in real life?

Skosh is a common word in modern English. In contemporary usage, skosh is often used adverbially in phrases like just a skosh or a skosh more/less. The term is especially used in cooking and eating (e.g., a skosh of nutmeg or I’ll have a skosh more coffee.)

More examples of skosh:

“Feeling a skosh blue today so treating myself! … ”
—@StaceyScotte, May 2020

“We embrace our identity as ‘the Star of the North,’ or ‘L’Etoile du Nord.’ Alaska notwithstanding, we have the northernmost border, thanks to a notch that nudges into Canada just a skosh.”
—Kim Ode, Star Tribune, January 2018

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.