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"to make fun of, to banter," 1845, American English, probably from the familiar version of the proper name Joshua, but just which Joshua, or why, is long forgotten. Perhaps it was taken as a typical name of an old farmer. The word was in use earlier than the career of U.S. humorist Josh Billings, pseudonym of Henry Wheeler Shaw (1818-1885), who did not begin to write and lecture until 1860; but his popularity after 1869 may have influence that of the word.
About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment. ["Josh Billings"]Related: Joshed; joshing.
: It was just a tasteless little josh (1978+)verb
To joke;banter; kid: continued Brian, unwilling to be joshed out of it (1845+)
[origin unknown; the earliest example is capitalized, suggesting a proper name; Eric Partridge gives ''a country man; a rustic'' as one sense, so perhaps the primary meaning is ''to behave like a bumpkin'' or ''to fool one by seeming to be a rural simpleton'']