According to Mr. Baker, who has written two books on Polari, including “Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang,” the language is the product of “a highly complex and non-linear sequence of events.” It probably started as the workplace slang of British sailors who traveled abroad, he said, encountering the language of mainland Europe – i.e. French – and bringing it home.
Since sailors knew all the ways of ropes, knots, and truss equipment, they often took on land jobs as stage actors and circus performers. Polari thrived among British fairgrounds, circuses and markets, transmuting words from one place to another (including Romani passages), then twisting – or zhuzhing – them up.
Some Polari terms are “behind slang” or existing words pronounced as if they were spelled backwards (e.g., “riah” for “hair”). By the 20th century, Mr. Baker said, Polari was spoken of throughout Britain’s gay community, which was tacitly controlled by the country’s laws governing sexual behavior.
The language allows gay men to communicate openly and identify one another, Mr. Baker said, but with its impeccable fun, it also celebrates the customs and spirit of a marginalized community. marginalized in society. “It’s also used for general gossip, to be funny and to ‘read’ the most upset people,” said Mr.
Jonathon Green, who has spent the past 40 years researching comprehensive online slang dictionaries, cited an early usage of the word – spelled “zhoosh” – in a 1977 article from the Gay newspaper. UK News: “We would zhoosh [‘fix’] our riahs [‘hair’]our eeks powder [‘faces’]climb our bona [‘nice’] new scissors [‘clothes’]Don’t fight our battle [‘shoes’] and trolls [‘cruise’] to some bona bijou [‘nice, small’] bar.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/31/style/jeuje-zhoosh-zhuzh.html ‘Jeuje,’ ‘Zhoosh,’ ‘Zhuzh’: A word with multiple spellings and meanings