A family friend recently sent me the following from the Merriam Webster's Word of the Day for March 9, 2009
1 : a person holding many public or private offices
2 : a person in high position or of great influence
"Have you seen news reports on the gatherings of international pooh-bahs who are trying to figure out some workable methods to restore the public's confidence in the markets?" (Ron Smith, The Baltimore Sun, October 15, 2008)
Did you know?
The original Pooh-Bah was an arrogant, buffoonish bureaucrat introduced in the 1885 Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Mikado. In that show, the character Pooh-Bah, whose title is "Lord High Everything Else," very "humbly" agrees to accept several important government offices (and their salaries) after a series of officials resign. He'll do anything if the bribe is big enough, and he loves to strut and show off to anyone who might be impressed by his grandeur. It didn't take English speakers long to adopt "pooh-bah" as a term for someone who holds either many offices or a high position, and the word still often carries a suggestion of pompousness.