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shroff noun (meaning ‘cashier’ or ‘payment booth’) before 1973

The ‘cashier’ sense has been antedated to 1950; evidence from 1970 of the ‘payment booth’ sense was found by Doug Clark.

Shroff is a word whose use in English can be traced back to colonial times. An Anglo-Indian corruption of the Persian borrowing saraf, it was used to refer to local bankers and money changers in former British territories in Asia such as India, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Today, the word has almost completely fallen out of use, except in Hong Kong English, where it has taken on the more modern sense of a cashier or a cashier’s office or payment booth, especially those found at a car park. OED editors are now looking for earlier evidence of these modern meanings, and the earliest examples we have found so far date from 1973 and 1995 respectively:

Assistant cashier. Collecting shroff. A leading public company has a vacancy for a young man of integrity to work in the cash department.

1973 Sunday Post-Herald (Hong Kong) 29 April p. 23

 

See you by the shroff in five minutes. We’re going out.

1995 South China Sunday Morning Post (Hong Kong) 24 December (Sunday Magazine) p. 8

 

Can you help us find earlier evidence for these modern meanings of shroff in Hong Kong English?

Posted by OED_Editor on 17 May 2016 15.00