One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A whip, typically of hippopotamus hide, formerly used as an instrument of punishment in Turkey and Egypt.
- ‘Did the museum fear outraged slavers descending on it with kurbashes?’
- ‘Taxes were extorted by torture, for which the notorious Egyptian kurbash, a whip with five lashes made of rhinoceros hide, was used.’
Early 19th century: from Arabic kurbāj, from Turkish kırbaç ‘whip’.
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