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[welsh, welch] /wɛlʃ, wɛltʃ/
verb (used without object), Informal: Sometimes Offensive.
to cheat by failing to pay a gambling debt:
You aren't going to welsh on me, are you?
to go back on one's word:
He welshed on his promise to help in the campaign.
Also, welch.
Origin of welsh
1855-60; perhaps special use of Welsh
Related forms
welsher, noun
Usage note
Use of this verb is sometimes perceived as insulting to or by the Welsh, the people of Wales. However, its actual origin may have nothing to do with Wales or its people; in fact, the verb is also spelled welch. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for welsher
Historical Examples
  • The boy hung his head, but looked sulky rather than thankful for his brother's interference with himself and the welsher.

    Under Two Flags Ouida [Louise de la Ramee]
  • Well, I tows her into the boss's office, feelin' as mean as a welsher.

    Torchy Sewell Ford
  • Does the reader know what is a “welsher”—the creature against whose malpractices the sporting public are so emphatically warned?

    The Seven Curses of London James Greenwood
  • "Why, it is a fleecing of one," retorted the welsher savagely, even amid his successes.

    Under Two Flags Ouida [Louise de la Ramee]
  • He knows every rook and welsher and every swell magsman, and all their haunts and habits.

    Half A Chance Frederic S. Isham
  • Would you yourself, if you had chased a pickpocket or a welsher for half a mile, mistake his identity five minutes afterwards?

British Dictionary definitions for welsher


verb (slang) (intransitive) often foll by on
to fail to pay a gambling debt
to fail to fulfil an obligation
Derived Forms
welsher, welcher, noun
Word Origin
C19: of unknown origin


of, relating to, or characteristic of Wales, its people, their Celtic language, or their dialect of English
a language of Wales, belonging to the S Celtic branch of the Indo-European family. Welsh shows considerable diversity between dialects
(functioning as pl) the Welsh, the natives or inhabitants of Wales collectively
Also (rare) Welch
Word Origin
Old English Wēlisc, Wǣlisc; related to wealh foreigner, Old High German walahisc (German welsch), Old Norse valskr, Latin Volcae


a white long-bodied lop-eared breed of pig, kept chiefly for bacon
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for welsher


Old English Wilisc, Wylisc (West Saxon), Welisc, Wælisc (Anglian and Kentish), from Wealh, Walh "Celt, Briton, Welshman, non-Germanic foreigner;" in Tolkien's definition, "common Gmc. name for a man of what we should call Celtic speech," but also applied to speakers of Latin, hence Old High German Walh, Walah "Celt, Roman, Gaulish," and Old Norse Valir "Gauls, Frenchmen" (Danish vælsk "Italian, French, southern"); from Proto-Germanic *Walkhiskaz, from a Celtic name represented by Latin Volcæ (Caesar) "ancient Celtic tribe in southern Gaul." The word survives in Wales, Cornwall, Walloon, walnut, and in surnames Walsh and Wallace. Borrowed in Old Church Slavonic as vlachu, and applied to the Rumanians, hence Wallachia.

Among the English, Welsh was used disparagingly of inferior or substitute things, hence Welsh rabbit (1725), also perverted by folk-etymology as Welsh rarebit (1785).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for welsher



Drunk: He happened to be well-oiled, as was usually the case (1900s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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