Bizarre British Travel Habits

Aug 13, 2011

Many years ago, when the British upper crust traveled to what was then the colony of India, they went by ship. (British Airways hadn't been invented yet.) If they were sufficiently wealthy, they would ask for a stateroom on the port, or left, side of the vessel on the way to India.

On the trip home to Merrie Olde England, they would ask for accommodations on the starboard, or right, side. Out of this peculiar custom, a word was invented. What was that word?

(Hint: It isn't blimey or knickers.)
RAY: Here's the answer. The word is Posh. It stood for 'port out, starboard home.' On the way to India, the hot afternoon sun is on the right-or starboard-side of the ship as you sail down the west coast of Africa. On the way back, it's on the port side, and a traveler desiring to avoid that hot sun wanted a room on the opposite side of the vessel.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter