Grand Poobah

Mikado

Grand Poobah is a satirical term derived from the name of the haughty character Pooh-Bah in Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Mikado’ (1885). In this comic opera, Pooh-Bah holds numerous exalted offices, including ‘First Lord of the Treasury, Lord Chief Justice, Commander-in-Chief, Lord High Admiral … Archbishop … Lord Mayor’ and ‘Lord High Everything Else.’

The name has come to be used as a mocking title for someone self-important or locally high-ranking and who either exhibits an inflated self-regard or who has limited authority while taking impressive titles. American writer William Safire wrote that ‘everyone assumes [the name] Pooh-Bah merely comes from [W. S. Gilbert] combining the two negative exclamations Pooh! plus Bah!, typical put-downs from a typical bureaucrat.’

The term “Grand Poobah” was used on the television show ‘The Flintstones’ as the name of a high-ranking elected position in a secret society, the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes. The main characters, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, were members of the lodge. The lodge is a spoof of secret societies and men’s clubs like the Freemasons, the Shriners, the Elks Club, and the Moose Lodge. The character Howard Cunningham on the TV series ‘Happy Days’ was a Grand Poobah of Leopard Lodge No. 462 in Milwaukee.

Tags:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.