The Bollox Registered User
#1

what is the etymology of banjaxed?

I thought about it in work the other day. I was serving in the offo and I handed some guy an 8 pack of heineken. I noticed one of the sides was loose, so I warned him 'hold onto that side, it's banjaxed' then when he left I found myself wondering what the hell it actually means, any ideas?

#2

Actually it stems from the Urdu "Bahnn Gehecked" which refers to a large pottery cooking bowl or gourd....These gourds were not very resistant to heat and developed cracks at the base.
When the Pasthu women lifted these onto their shoulders the base frequently came away showering the carrier with hot liquid or stew.

By common usage then the term became a descriptor for an item which was faulty or unsafe.
For instance when someone would attempt to lift a full basket of cobras for the snake charmer someone might say .."Be carefull Parminder....that could be bahnn gehecked...

British soldiers in India brought the expression to these islands

Alun Registered User
#3

FlutterinBantam
British soldiers in India brought the expression to these islands

It doesn't seem to be in common use in Britain though. When I moved to Ireland was the first time I'd heard it used.

#4

Indeed.. Of course Banjaxed is a corruption of the word and has a particularly Irish angle to it....

Caryatnid Registered User
#5

It doesn't seem to be in common use in Britain though. When I moved to Ireland was the first time I'd heard it used.


Yeah. That explanation seems almost too far-fetched. I definitely would've thought it was used more in Ireland than Britian. Although for it to have Irish origins, it would probably have come from Irish, and I can't think of any similar words or phrases as Gaeilge..... Hmmm.

Caryatnid Registered User
#6

The Cassell Dictionary of Slang says:
banjax v. [1930s+] to batter, to destroy, to ruin, to get in the way of. [usu. in Irish use; f. ? Dublin sl.]

And from Merriam-Webster Online:
Main Entry: ban·jax
Pronunciation: 'ban-"jaks
Function: transitive verb
Etymology: origin unknown
chiefly Irish : DAMAGE, RUIN; also : SMASH

From what I can find in a brief search of the net, the word definitely seems to have Irish origins.

#7

Right so Ted

DublinWriter Registered User
#8

From the OED 2nd ed.

Anglo-Ir. slang.

Earliest quotations:
‘F. O'Brien’ At Swim-two-Birds 240 Here is his black heart sitting there as large as life in the middle of the pulp of his banjaxed corpse. 1956 S. Beckett Waiting for Godot (rev. ed.) 79 Lucky might get going all of a sudden. Then we'd be banjaxed [1954: ballocksed]. 1959 D. O'Neill Life has no Price ix. 169, I had the right to leave him talk, I suppose, and banjax us altogether? 1968 Observer 29 Dec. 19/1 You completely banjax the whole psychological impact. 1969 G. Lyall Venus with Pistol viii. 48 The man is a twit. I mean, he banjaxed that Zurich trip. 1972 New Yorker 28 Oct. 40/1 Ha-ha, so she ups and banjaxed the old man one night with a broken spade handle. 1974 Nature 22 Nov. 334/1 My sense of enlightenment was somewhat tempered by the banjaxed mood in which I found myself. 1976 U. Holden String Horses viii. 102 The dawn suicide the day before had made a lot of work and worry, had banjaxed things for a while. 1979 T. Wogan Banjaxed (1980) 78, I am out to banjax the bookies.

DublinWriter Registered User
#9

The OED states that the Etymology is unknown, and most likely Dublin slang.

A large amount of Dublin slang originates from mid-late Victorian London slang and more than likely came over with the British Army.

For example 'Mot' is/was Dublin slang for 'Girlfriend', but it originally was a Victorian slang word for vagina, and survived as a word in Dublin after it was long forgotten in London.

Blush_01 Registered User
#10

c/f A Dictionary of Hiberno-English and it'll say the exact same thing. It's a Hiberno-English word, means smashed, ruined or destroyed and is of obscure origin.

PunyHuman Registered User
#11

FlutterinBantam
British soldiers in India brought the expression to these islands

Alun
It doesn't seem to be in common use in Britain though. When I moved to Ireland was the first time I'd heard it used.


Don't forget that Ireland was British back then. Very many soldiers and sailors in the British Army and the Royal Navy were Irish.

Rudyard Kipling's Kim from the eponymous classic novel is actually Kim O'Hara, the orphaned son of an Irish soldier and an Indian woman.

Lots of words in English have been borrowed from both Urdu and Hindi, including dungarees, shampoo, pundit, purdah, bangle, loot, thug, juggernaut and, interestingly, goolies.

DublinWriter Registered User
#12

PunyHuman
Lots of words in English have been borrowed from both Urdu and Hindi, including dungarees, shampoo, pundit, purdah, bangle, loot, thug, juggernaut and, interestingly, goolies.

Bungalow, too.

Bunbry Registered User
#13

There are all sorts of occassions where foreign words enter the English language via military and other purposes and then only survive in isolation in certain places where they are used often. Thus, in Birmingham England a local word for money is 'akkers' and derives from the Egyptian Arabic word for money. Thought to bhave been brought back by soldiers serving in Egypt. Along with the word 'bint' which is arabic for daughter and used as a coarse word for woman or girl. The idea that banjaxed may derive from urdu or pashtu is not as outlandish as it first sounds when seen in that context.

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#14

FlutterinBantam said:


British soldiers in India brought the expression to these islands


Hmm...did they come back via Germany by any chance?

Bunbry said:
The idea that banjaxed may derive from urdu or pashtu is not as outlandish as it first sounds when seen in that context.


True, but when seen in this context:

- there does not appear to be a shred of evidence for FB's theory

- there is curious absence of the alleged Urdu words in any online Urdu dictionary

- the out is in fact a bit more landish than it first sounds.

Bunbry Registered User
#15

I know I have looked at all you say. The train joke in German is of course a bit shall we say 'worrying'. Plus I don't know how Urdu or Pashtu is normalised into English when not using original characters.

My Urdu and Pashtu is near to non-existant. So I don't feel able to comment on that. However, my only point was that the idea that British/Commonwealth soldiers being a source of local/dialect words that survive largely in isolation is not without some credibility. See the Dictionary of Forces Slang for several examples. It may just be wishful thinking on my part because banjaxed is such a fun and good word, and I really want it to have a good ancient origin. The truth is that in order to solve this, we need access to an Urdu/Pashtu dialect specialist. I doubt their servives will be forthcoming.

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