[bak-sheesh, bak-sheesh]
Baksheesh is a term used to describe tipping, charitable giving, and certain forms of political corruption and bribery in the Middle East and South Asia.


Baksheesh is a Persian word, written بخشش and originating from the Pahlavi (Middle Iranian) language (source: Dehkhoda dictionary).

Types of baksheesh

  1. Charity to beggars. In Pakistan beggars solicit alms by crying 'baksheesh, baba!'.
  2. Tipping. This does not correlate with the European system of tipping, as it also includes demonstrations of gratitude, respect or veneration. An offering to the gods may be considered baksheesh. A faqir may also ask for baksheesh but there is no thought in his mind that he is begging. In fact, in Pakistan and the Muslim world the giver of alms often salutes the beggar for having been given the opportunity to gain merit. In Egypt it is expected that baksheesh will be paid on top of fares to taxi drivers and on top of "service charges" to waiters, as well as to doormen, shopkeepers, garage attendants and everyone else employed in service sector jobs.
  3. Outright bribery. For instance, if a police officer catches you with a chillum full of charas you may have the choice between going to jail or paying baksheesh.

European Usage

The word has also moved westward. In Serbian and Bulgarian, бакшиш means "tip" in the conventional sense. In Greek, μπαξίσι (baksisi) can mean a gift in general. In German, Bakschisch is used to describe a small bribe.

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