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Thanks so much for all the responses to the grandmother question. Fascinating! Plus I might use some of your responses in my next book, which has surprised me by being set entirely in the US of A with no Australian characters. Gulp.
I just read the first few chapters to Scott and he reckons my only misstep was the word “posh”, which I had my teenage protag use to describe a super-expensive private school. Which left me wondering what word you’d use instead. What’s the USian equivalent of “posh”?
I’ve had “classy” suggested but it doesn’t work for me because “posh” also has connotations of being a bit stuck up, and hard to get into, not merely expensive. Something can be “classy” but not expensive; a person can be “classy” without being “rich”. Scott says “fancy schmancy” or “hoity toity” but those sound to me like they come from the stone ages.
I suspect I’ll be asking more such questions over the coming months.
Posted by Justine at 0:01, 10 January 2008 under Liar, New York City/USA, Words & Language | 64 Comments »
Gina Black Says:
January 10th, 2008 at 12:15 AM
off the hook
January 10th, 2008 at 12:24 AM
fancy-schmancy, but mostly if the speaker is Jewish
but honestly, if your protagonist is anywhere near NYC, “one of those obnoxious private schools” should get the job done.
January 10th, 2008 at 12:26 AM
I don’t see “off the hook” going with exclusive, expensive private school, honestly. I always thought “off the hook” referred to something cool and wild and expensive, not the exclusive old-money private schools.
January 10th, 2008 at 12:28 AM
daphne unfeasible Says:
If Posh Spice has made it in America, then I think you can use the word “posh” in your manuscript. It does the best job of conveying what you mean.
January 10th, 2008 at 12:34 AM
Mary Elizabeth S. Says:
Oh. Um, well, I’m USian, born and raised, and I wouldn’t have thought “posh” was out of place. But, I pick up a lot of words from books without knowing it, which leaves me speaking a slightly different (and very mish-mashed) dialect than most.
I think Gina Black’s suggestion of “preppy” would be the next closest thing, although that gets used an awful lot. (“ritzy” and “swanky” have slightly different, though similar, connotations for me.)
January 10th, 2008 at 12:38 AM
Heather Shaw Says:
I dunno that “posh” doesn’t work. We said that, growing up in the midwest, though it’s true that a teenager would’ve been more likely to say “stuck-up”, “snotty”, “swanky” or “preppy”. And we often used “fancy-schmancy” in my family, and I never knew a Jewish person until high school, and then it was just the one girl. I had no idea that was a Jewish saying.
“La-di-dah” is another one, though that’s for a person, not a thing.
January 10th, 2008 at 12:40 AM
I’d personally see nothing wrong with the word “posh”, but I try not to speak normal USian. WHOA, WE CAN USE CAPITAL LETTERS? *abuse*
Here, private schools are already associated with snobbishness, but you could just italicize the “private”. Oh, she goes to a private school.
January 10th, 2008 at 12:46 AM
i have heard “posh” before. i don’t know that you’d be that far off using it. although, i don’t think of it as having especially negative connotations. and the only reason i ever found out what it meant was b/c of posh spice.
-fancy schmancy (maybe i’m weird, but i use it)
-ritzy (also doesn’t have especially negative feeling, to me)
January 10th, 2008 at 12:49 AM
I’m from the midwest and the term we used was ‘chi chi’ (pronounced shee-shee).
January 10th, 2008 at 12:53 AM
(I originally posted this on the LJ syndication, but I found out you don’t actually get those, sorry)
“Fancy schmancy” is something people I know, especially in my family, use a lot. “Hoity toity” is another, but not used as often.
I wouldn’t use “classy” because it generally means something well-refined or well-mannered, not just rich.
Some others you might want to think about: snotty; snobby; stuck-up; preppy
It’ll also depend on context: I think “posh” is much more of a general-use word, whereas a person can’t be ritzy and a thing can’t be a snob.
There’s also the question of whether you mean patrician-type of upscale, or obnoxious-display type of upscale. The latter is definitely flashy, but the former is not.
(I love big letters! I’ll take all the letter-embiggenation I can get!!)
January 10th, 2008 at 12:56 AM
I second, third, whatever, preppy.
January 10th, 2008 at 1:13 AM
Where’s the story set? If it’s in an upper end neighborhood, you could name the suburb and add elite to the end of it.
I am of course stealing this from the tv version of Gossip Girl. The second question is how much snobbery is there? If it isn’t the cool place to be (which I always assumed posh implied), elite may not be the right word, preppy would be closer, as that’s more of a degenerative term.
I think I just made that word up. Either that, or it’s spelled horribly wrong.
January 10th, 2008 at 1:43 AM
In the Pacific Northwest, going with Sean’s suggestion or just using preppy should work just fine…dialect varies from region to region, though, so it really depends on where in the US your protag is coming from.
January 10th, 2008 at 2:12 AM
David Moles Says:
I don’t hear a USian saying “posh”. “Fancy” (with or without “schmancy” might be your best bet.
January 10th, 2008 at 2:36 AM
blueblood? rich-ass? money? (as in the verb)
January 10th, 2008 at 2:40 AM
“posh” is totally american. i heard it growing up in the midwest, too. my dad used to use it. the word itself is more … posh than “fancy” or “swanky.” the latter two always have a bit of a sneer in them, but “posh,” while self-conscious, and sometimes ironic, isn’t mean.
“classy” is entirely approving, without any humor or irony. and it has a tinge of the low class about it, i.e. class conscious middle to upper middle folks wouldn’t use it.
January 10th, 2008 at 3:18 AM
jennifer, aka literaticat Says:
snobby, for sure.
January 10th, 2008 at 5:02 AM
Mary Anne Mohanraj Says:
Justine, I’d just use ‘fancy private school’ or possibly ‘fancy-ass prep school’, depending on the speaker. Speaking as someone who went to one, but had friends who didn’t.
January 10th, 2008 at 7:34 AM
We say ‘Beckham’ now.
That’s a very Beckham school.
January 10th, 2008 at 8:01 AM
‘Posh’ is definitely the wrong word for an American teenager to use. ‘Swanky’ is more American, but teenagers are more likely to say ‘stuck-up’ or ‘snotty’ or ‘snobby.’ Any one of those would, along with the words ‘private school,’ suggest expensive, as well.
January 10th, 2008 at 8:12 AM
megan crewe Says:
I don’t know if this helps as I’m Canadian, not American, but I use “posh” and did as a teenager, too.
January 10th, 2008 at 8:53 AM
As a girl who went to a “posh” all-girls prep school in the US (specifically the Pasadena area of Los Angeles…which is very affluent), “preppy” is the word that got thrown around a lot (not used BY us prep girls, but given to us). I think “preppy” is the closest in connotation to “posh.”
However, I would second whoever “fancy-ass” as I’ve heard that one levelled at me too!
January 10th, 2008 at 9:23 AM
Graeme Williams Says:
I’m an Australian who’s been living in the US for a few decades (so I’m not a teenager!). My guess for the closest equivalent in adult USian is “exclusive”, but that doesn’t sound like something a teenager would say.
Regional variation is much more common in the US than in Australia. I guess you’re left-coasters, so that would be a fine choice for a locale, as long as the story doesn’t involve people visiting from out of state.
January 10th, 2008 at 9:25 AM
e. Lockhart Says:
My mother used to always say “tony.”
Posh doesn’t sound out of place to me, though.
“Moneyed” is probably what I’d use. “Swank” rather than swanky, I think. “Pretentious” might do you, too.
I am from Boston and Seattle, now New York.
P.S. My WASP grandmother was Granny. My Jewish one Grandma.
January 10th, 2008 at 9:32 AM
erm, yeah, definitely not posh. posh is a great word, but at least in my experience as a 23 year old girl from the northeast (though i have also lived in the south), no one says it.
i agree that preppy or fancy-ass are the most likely words for a teenager to use. i’ve heard some people say shi-shi, but like another poster said, i think that’s a midwestern thing. i can’t imagine any teenager, anywhere, ever, saying hoity-toity or fancy-shmancy. no offense.
the problem with the the states though, is that the speaker’s class, age, and location (and, arguably [cringe], her race/ethnic group) makes all the difference.
January 10th, 2008 at 9:49 AM
I think “ritzy” and “preppy” are still in use among USian teens; a kid who says “posh” around here would be accused of posing. “Private” in itals, or even “that super-expensive private school” would probably work, too…
January 10th, 2008 at 10:10 AM
January 10th, 2008 at 10:26 AM
“Preppy” is used mostly (where I live) to refer to a style, and depending on what kind of expensive the private school is, that might not apply. (Old money usually isn’t “preppy.” Also, where I live=Minnesota, in case you were wondering.) What I’d say probably isn’t helpful, as I am a basement-dwelling word-nerd, but fancy works.
“Posh” sounds wrong to me, though.
Also! I would just like to add, “fancy-shmancy” isn’t an exclusively Jewish thing. It does come from Yiddish syntax, but anyone can use it. I’m Jewish, but I never have, so.
Er, yeah. This whole comment could be summed up as “it depends on your character.”
January 10th, 2008 at 10:31 AM
Huh? Since when is “posh” not USian? I’m from Minnesota, too, and I’ve been using it since I was a teenager. Plus it really seems like the best word for what you’re going for.
January 10th, 2008 at 10:57 AM
hey! daphne unfeasible has a blog! hurray!
also, i think i’m sticking to lowercase, for old time’s sake. ’tis not really justine’s blog if the comments have caps.
January 10th, 2008 at 11:09 AM
i think posh is perfectly fine. I use it, I hear other people use it and i think plenty of teenagers would know what it means.
i see some suggestions of preppy, but I guess i don’t really see preppy fitting your definition.
but hey… that’s just me.
January 10th, 2008 at 11:10 AM
I’m in New York and we say “posh.” “Ritzy” would convey the same thing, I think, but it sounds vaguely old-fashioned, circa 1920. (I’ve heard “shi-shi” and “shi-shi-frou-frou” in suburban Connecticut, but more as a put-down.) “Swanky” (not “swank”) might have the same neutral connotation. Snooty, snobby/snobbish, snotty — these are all negative. “Exclusive” is a viable euphemism.
“Hoity-toity” is more like “uppity” in connoting an attitude that the person in question ostensibly has no right to: someone getting “above themselves.”
“Preppy” conveys more of a style of dress to me than a lifestyle or social sphere.
January 10th, 2008 at 11:18 AM
“Snooty” and “snot-nosed” are the words we used to describe the local prep school kids and their schools back when I was a teenage peasant. Also preppy, stuck-up and snobby.
January 10th, 2008 at 11:21 AM
Agree with the other commenters that “posh” would be believable. But “swanky” is also great.
January 10th, 2008 at 12:03 PM
and caaf is posting somewhere too! le hurray!
January 10th, 2008 at 12:43 PM
I like “fancy-ass prep school”.
January 10th, 2008 at 1:21 PM
Other people have already said it, but I’d vote for “swank”.
January 10th, 2008 at 1:56 PM
Snobby or snotty or ritzy
January 10th, 2008 at 2:37 PM
I think “posh” is fine. Second choice: preppy. I also like snobby and snooty. Fancy pants?
January 10th, 2008 at 3:27 PM
serafina zane Says:
well, i, as a sort of wierd person might use the term posh with my friends, joking or something.
stuck-up? i also approve of preppy—it’s common term i use to describe my school of rich white kids.
i wouldn’t use hoity-toity or the like…i’d see it as more likely to say posh, at least with people i know.
January 10th, 2008 at 4:09 PM
I like several of the suggestions above: “preppy”, “snooty”, “stuck-up” (of people, not the school itself), “fancy” etc. But the one I would use is “rich”. “It must be so easy when you go to a rich private school . . .” etc.
I also like the letter-embiggening thing. Did I miss an announcement?
January 10th, 2008 at 4:44 PM
I’m with E. ‘Tony’. Only because I like the word…but does anyone under say, ooh, forty, use it?
Posh is a great word. “She’s a bit of posh”, for example. Like Jack’s almost-wife in 30 Rock. Sometimes pronounced with a hard ‘o’ for added silliness.
La-di-da always makes me think of Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. And that’s a whole other New York.
January 10th, 2008 at 5:05 PM
January 10th, 2008 at 5:14 PM
Posh actually works well because of the situation you’re using it in. (LOL I just noticed I have capital letters again! I was like whaaat?!) But otherwise… prep, yeah, I guess.
January 10th, 2008 at 5:30 PM
im a “usian” teenager and i would
saw preppy loaded 9with cash) private school
January 10th, 2008 at 6:55 PM
say* not saw
January 10th, 2008 at 6:56 PM
i’m from california, and we’d either call it “rich”, “preppy”, “private”, or “those snobby bastards who think we’re from the ghetto”.
personally i’d go with “rich”.
January 10th, 2008 at 7:13 PM
ariel cooke Says:
swanky–but i’m from the stone age too.
January 10th, 2008 at 7:16 PM
p.s. i’m from nyc.
January 10th, 2008 at 7:17 PM
posh is fine! don’t listen to scott!
January 10th, 2008 at 7:33 PM
never heard anyone at school use swanky.. but stuck up, preppy, biotchy, snobby.. haha theres a place called snob hill where rich kids but it’s really knob hill
(15 yearold usian here:] )
CAPITOL LETTERS! lol
January 10th, 2008 at 7:37 PM
oh and the only time i’ve heard anyone say posh is if they are british.. or if someone is joking around and add a british accent
so i agree with scott.. maybe just people in the south don’t say it
January 10th, 2008 at 7:40 PM
preppy- or maybe, full of J.A.P.s (Jewish American Princess)?
I go to an all- girls posh private school… I’ve never heard fancy-ass used, but I like it, and if in the Upper East side, those Upper East Side brats?
January 10th, 2008 at 8:10 PM
preppy would work, as would private-school girl, rich kid, or upper-east-sidey.
also, nooooo! i love this haven of all-lowercase. it’s so pretty!
January 10th, 2008 at 9:07 PM
As a US teen I believe posh isn’t very common generally it has the connotation to refer to the UK, cause of those spicy chicks.
I back up the suggestion “preppy”.
Love your blog btw.
January 10th, 2008 at 9:21 PM
I personally don’t see anything wrong with posh……
and I live in Texas. But what do I know. :/
January 10th, 2008 at 10:01 PM
so. did you run out of room for all the capitals you’ve been stealing?
January 10th, 2008 at 10:14 PM
Posh doesn’t work for me, especially if it is a teenager speaking.
Preppy works. Ritzy is okay, but I’m not sure if a teen would say this. Off the hook is nice (and current) but only if the protag thinks the place is great in addition to expensive. But my favorite is j’s ‘fancy-ass.’ I think it would work well from a teen perspective, and it seems very USian.
January 10th, 2008 at 10:31 PM
January 10th, 2008 at 11:05 PM
when i lived in the us, one of my jobs was working in a mental hospital for teens. it was fun,especially when i broke my leg and let a bunch of kids hopped up and thorazine and caffiene paint my cast… but anyway, they used the term “posh” quite often, usually with hoity toity hand gestures and noses in air and very faux snooty voices. it was primarily a derogatory thing. as in “of course we will never see britney or lindsey here; we’re just not special and posh and all that crap.” but in my never ending quest to be helpful, i looked in the roget’s dinosaurus, er thesaurus. for posh it said “chic, classy, deluxe, elegant, exclusive, grand, fashionable, high class, lah-di-dah, luxury, modish, opulent, rich, ritzy, smart, swank, swanky, swish, and trendy” i like lah-di-dah.
and i stubbornly refuse to use capitals here.
January 11th, 2008 at 4:50 PM
woot for lowercase!
January 11th, 2008 at 8:46 PM
Little Willow Says:
I say posh and I’m American. Then again, I also choose my words very carefully and consider each and every word to have a different connotation and definition.
January 12th, 2008 at 2:13 AM
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