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A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg cumshaw PRONUNCIATION: (***-shaw) MEANING: noun: A gift or a tip. ETYMOLOGY: From Chinese (Amoy/Xiamen dialect), kan (to be grateful) + hsieh (thanks). The term was used by beggars in Chinese ports and picked up by visiting sailors during the 19th century. As a Mess Specialist (Cook) & out @ sea, one dry good that was of fairly high value to comshaw was coffee grounds. Which I cumshaw\'d for a set of airwing patches.
navyvet navyvet 56-60, M 5 Answers May 11, 2009

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Well at the risk of giving the Navy a black eye, and I'm not sure comshaw is a Navy term, but when you comshaw something you are trading something which is not yours for something else which is not theirs to trade for. When we were at Red Beach in Danang we would trade say a pallet of plywood for say a case of frozen steaks destined for some officers barbecue.

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Correct yonime, cept that it originated @ USMC and it's "cumshaw"

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& USN vet here.

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lol...Many times it was accomplished, out of lines of authority, for legit military purpose as well. Ref : ya gotta do what ya gotta do. :)

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I believe Radar and Klinger on MASH were the masters of this process. It is a military term but universal in its application. yonime 3/26/11 has it right: when you comshaw something you are trading something which is not yours for something else which is not theirs to trade.

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omfg you make me feel like such a...well, land-lubber; I was in naval service for four years and was stationed in a foreign port and spent 50% of my time out to sea....and for the love of gods I can't remember wtf comshaw means....<br />
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....thanks =P<br />
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for what it's worth, please message me and decipher for me, I feel like a freakin' nematoad with a brain tumor now....

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Er...umm. I came into this question not to answer it, but to find out what "comshaw" means!

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A five gallon bucket of non-ionic soap for a five pound can of mixed nuts was a typical trade. Done routinely between divisions onboard a navy vessel. Nothing sinister. Each division had a budget and a supply noncom under extreme pressure to get a job done and at the same time keep up crew morale.

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