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From Chinese Pidgin English, from Portuguese deus (god), from Latin deus (god), from Proto-Indo-European *deywós (god/that which belongs to heaven).[1]



joss (countable and uncountable, plural josses)

  1. (countable) A Chinese household divinity; a Chinese idol.
  2. (countable) A heathen divinity.
    • 1939, Philip George Chadwick, The Death Guard, pages 111–112:
      Don't forget they're mostly just joss-worshipping heathen an' they don't get no kick out of the more classy breeds o' religion. Though I guess there ain't that much diff'rence. It ain't many's so Lord Almighty in theirselves that they don't need a joss of some sort, an' I guess it's what yu think about him matters not the sort o' joss.
  3. (uncountable, informal) Luck.
    • 1977, John Le Carré, The Honourable Schoolboy, Folio Society 2010, p. 178:
      She had twisted a piece of heather into her mail box for good joss, and this was the safety signal.

Derived termsEdit


  1. ^ joss” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.




  1. (logic) iff

See alsoEdit