Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for January 9, 2021 is:
baksheesh BAK-sheesh noun
: payment (such as a tip or bribe) to expedite service
“Penn noted that from 2014 until May, the state’s largest utilities pumped some $57 million in campaign contributions to members of the Florida Legislature.… And just to make sure that investment in turning the state House and Senate into a buffet line of legalized baksheesh was protected, the utilities also spent $6 million on lobbying….” — Daniel Ruth, The Tampa Bay (Florida) Times, 12 July 2019
“Guides are often well-trained Egyptologists whose function is not only to educate but also to divert the many locals who will have their hands out for baksheesh, whether they’ve earned it or not.” — Tim Murphy et al., Condé Nast Traveler, 26 Mar. 2015
Did you know?
British subjects traveling abroad in the 17th century likely picked up baksheesh in Asia, where they would have heard the term used to mean “gratuity, a present of money, tip”—a meaning they directly adopted. Etymologically speaking, baksheesh is from Persian bakhshīsh, which is also the source of the word buckshee, meaning “something extra obtained free,” “extra rations,” or “windfall, gratuity.” Buckshee never made it across the pond to the U.S., and is strictly used in British English.