[welsh, welch]
See more synonyms for welsh on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object) Informal: Sometimes Offensive.
  1. to cheat by failing to pay a gambling debt: You aren't going to welsh on me, are you?
  2. to go back on one's word: He welshed on his promise to help in the campaign.
Also welch.

Origin of welsh

First recorded in 1855–60; perhaps special use of Welsh
Related formswelsh·er, noun

Usage note

Use of this verb is sometimes perceived as insulting to or by the Welsh, the people of Wales. However, its actual origin may have nothing to do with Wales or its people; in fact, the verb is also spelled welch.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for welsher

Historical Examples of welsher

  • Well, I tows her into the boss's office, feelin' as mean as a welsher.


    Sewell Ford

  • He knows every rook and welsher and every swell magsman, and all their haunts and habits.

    Half A Chance

    Frederic S. Isham

  • The boy hung his head, but looked sulky rather than thankful for his brother's interference with himself and the welsher.

    Under Two Flags

    Ouida [Louise de la Ramee]

  • "Why, it is a fleecing of one," retorted the welsher savagely, even amid his successes.

    Under Two Flags

    Ouida [Louise de la Ramee]

  • Does the reader know what is a “welsher”—the creature against whose malpractices the sporting public are so emphatically warned?

British Dictionary definitions for welsher



verb (intr often foll by on) slang
  1. to fail to pay a gambling debt
  2. to fail to fulfil an obligation
Derived Formswelsher or welcher, noun

Word Origin for welsh

C19: of unknown origin


  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of Wales, its people, their Celtic language, or their dialect of English
  1. a language of Wales, belonging to the S Celtic branch of the Indo-European family. Welsh shows considerable diversity between dialects
  2. the Welsh (functioning as plural) the natives or inhabitants of Wales collectively
Also (rare): Welch

Word Origin for Welsh

Old English Wēlisc, Wǣlisc; related to wealh foreigner, Old High German walahisc (German welsch), Old Norse valskr, Latin Volcae


  1. a white long-bodied lop-eared breed of pig, kept chiefly for bacon
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 welsher


Old English Wilisc, Wylisc (West Saxon), Welisc, Wælisc (Anglian and Kentish), from Wealh, Walh "Celt, Briton, Welshman, non-Germanic foreigner;" in Tolkien's definition, "common Gmc. name for a man of what we should call Celtic speech," but also applied to speakers of Latin, hence Old High German Walh, Walah "Celt, Roman, Gaulish," and Old Norse Valir "Gauls, Frenchmen" (Danish vælsk "Italian, French, southern"); from Proto-Germanic *Walkhiskaz, from a Celtic name represented by Latin Volcæ (Caesar) "ancient Celtic tribe in southern Gaul." The word survives in Wales, Cornwall, Walloon, walnut, and in surnames Walsh and Wallace. Borrowed in Old Church Slavonic as vlachu, and applied to the Rumanians, hence Wallachia.

Among the English, Welsh was used disparagingly of inferior or substitute things, hence Welsh rabbit (1725), also perverted by folk-etymology as Welsh rarebit (1785).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper