Green’s Dictionary of Slang

baksheesh n.

[Hind. बख़्शिश (bakhśiś), from Pers. bakhshish, present, ult. f. bakhshi-dan, to give. Given the stereotyping of the ‘Oriental merchant’ or the Third World beggar, the implication tends to be slightly pej.]

1. (also backshee, backsheesh, bakshish, buckshee, bucksheech, buckshish) a gratuity, a tip; cite 1894 extends sense to a bribe.

[Ind][C. D’Oyly] Tom Raw, The Griffin 27: Poor Tom is sweltering on a foreign strand; / The Manjee soon his trunk and boat-cloak brings, / Demanding buxish – ‘I don’t understand,’ / [...] / ‘Buxish,’ the Manjee roars, with outstretched hand. / ‘Man want rupee,’ exclaimed a spruce Ram-Johnny, / Who, eagerly pressed near him – ‘man he want some money.’.
[US]Vermont Teleg. (Brandon, VT) 11 Oct. 2/3: I hired a fishing-boat [...] With eight stout oarmen, and a promise of buckshee [...] I arrived in twenty-three hours.
J.G. Kinnear Cairo, Petra and Damascus (1841) 38: I suppose, that their chance of any baksheesh would depend on my reaching the ground.
[Ind]Bellew Memoirs of a Griffin I 244: [He] said something [...] in which the word buckshish (presents) was remarkably distinct.
Hertford Mercury & Reformer (Herts.) 2 Nov. 1/6: Then [...] with an impudent grin and extended hand, ‘Baksheesh!’.
Blackwood’s Edinburgh Mag LXXXIX 39: To be lost, as it were, in heavenly thoughts, and then all at once to be aroused by such a thief-like clamour for baksheesh.
[UK]L. Duff Gordon 19 Apr. Letters from the Cape (1875) 328: I think they must be like the Turks in manner, as they have all the eastern gentlemanly ease and politeness [...] and no idea of Baksheesh; withal frugal, industrious, and moneymaking.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. 87: buckshish, a present of money.
[US]G.E. Clark Seven Years of a Sailor’s Life 141: I gave the ostler his ‘buckshees,’ or perquisite.
[UK]Graphic 27 Nov. 6/2: We left the hotel when we heard a great jabbering for ‘baksheesh’.
[UK]Sheffield Dly Teleg. (Yorks.) 9 Mar. 5/2: The Oriental beggars who bother you for backsheesh are not greater persecutors of public patience than [etc.].
[UK]J. Keane On Blue Water 160: I soon came to an understanding with the old fellow. First, a little high-handed treatment, and then a hint of a little soothing bakshish.
[UK]Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday 7 June 46/1: We must not forgot the priest’s ‘bakshish,’ or the fee to the presiding Brahmin.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 18 Apr. 9/3: The natives are more insolent and overbearing than even when we first came, and everything has to be purchased by liberal bucksheech.
[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) VII 1361: There she stopped, smiled, nodded, and held out her hand. — I understood Backsheesh and dropped a small coin into it.
[UK]Kipling ‘The God from the Machine’ in Soldiers Three (1907) 13: I niver asked for bakshish.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 23 Dec. 3/2: A Little ‘Palm-Oil’ [...] If baksheeshprevalsi in the United States is it unknown here?
[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 91: That knocked all my pipe-dreams of [...] distributing backsheesh among the natives.
[US]Minneapolis Jrnl (MN) 23 July 25/2: [cartoon caption] I’ll give ye a dollar apiece — heap bucksheesh.
[Aus]Gadfly (Adelaide) 28 Nov. 809/1: ‘Here!’ said my brother one morning at breakfast, throwing some money across the table, in the take-it-I’ll-starve manner, affected by one’s male relatives when bestowing baksheesh.
[UK]Dundee Eve. Teleg. 28 Aug. 6/1: If liberal ‘bucksheesh’ is not given the chances of contnued success are small.
[Aus]F. Garrett diary 15 Aug. [Internet] Got some ‘bachseesh’ tomatoes and grapes from passing Greeks [...] think this gist was he had already given ‘backseesh’ to the sentry at our camp.
[NZ]‘Anzac’ On the Anzac Trail 22: The natives [...] are intensely religious, always looking for backsheesh, and have no morals.
[Aus]Kia Ora Coo-ee 15 June 15/1: Then, through the cymbals’ rhythm, I suddenly recognised the old, old refrain, ‘Gib it backsheesh; gib it backsheesh.’ I gave.
Bott in Harper’s Pictorial Library of the World War X 235: I met a Turkish officer [...] and then worked the game of bakshish, which is really a national game in Turkey. I gave the officer a couple of pounds and he peeled the uniform. He put on mine.
[UK]J. MacLaren-Ross ‘A Bit of a Smash in Madras’ in Memoirs of the Forties (1984) 290: Baksheesh, that’s all they think about in this country.
[US]S.J. Perelman Westward Ha! 121: Who can get baksheesh out of an Armenian?
[UK]A. Sinclair My Friend Judas (1963) 61: Those eighteenth-century French bums who weren’t philosophers and would have sold their mothers for any baksheesh from the Bourbons.
[UK](con. WWII) B. Aldiss Soldier Erect 35: Kids [...] still working on squeezing one last baksheesh from us.
[Aus]M. Bail Homesickness (1999) 191: He’s after baksheesh.
[Aus]M. Bail Holden’s Performance (1989) 330: The concrete contractors holding their palms out for backsheesh.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 57: baksheesh meant money, a term that is still heard occasionally, now meaning a bribe or kickback.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

[US]H. Hapgood Types From City Streets 185: Baksheesh rates are fairly well fixed at the Mina House.
[UK]B. Bunting ‘First Book of Odes’ in Complete Poems 7: Endless disappointed buckshee-hunt!
[UK]N. Barlay Hooky Gear 227: He must be, smooth as a silk cravat, bullshittin Baksheesh Bill.

3. (also backsheesh, buckshee) something free, a ‘perk’.

L.N. Smith Lingo of No Man’s Land 9: BAKSHEESH — Money; food, anything left over in the pot .
[UK]N&Q 12 Ser. IX 418: ‘Buckshee’ was most commonly used to indicate the food left over after everyone had been served.
[Aus](con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. of Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: buckshee. A prize, a catch, a windfall, something for nothing. From Hindi, bakhshi: giver or bucksheesh gift, tip.
[Aus]K. Tennant Foveaux 260: Their like as takers of backsheesh would be no more in the land.
[US]S. Bellow Henderson The Rain King 259: I promised you backsheesh, old man, and here are the papers for the jeep, made over to you.
[UK]W. Hall Long and the Short and the Tall Act II: There’s no more buckshees for the Nippo, Bamforth.
[US](con. WWII) D. Westheimer Song of the Young Sentry (1969) 113: If I helped you out it wouldn’t be for any buckshee.
[UK]Observer Rev. 27 Oct. 4: Dead broke despite US baksheesh.