Sunday, November 19, 2017
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Or . Dirt – a little dirt, not serious grime. If a little boy has shmutz on his face, and he likely will, his mother will quickly wipe it off. It can also mean dirty language. It’s not nice to talk shmutz about shmutz. A current derivation, “schmitzig,” means a “thigamabob” or a “doodad,” but has nothing to do with filth.
Something you’re known for doing, an entertainer’s routine, an actor’s bit, stage business; a gimmick often done to draw attention to yourself.
Or . Knick-knack, little toy, collectible or giftware. It also appears in sentences such as, “My brother divorced his wife for some little tchatchke.” You can figure that one out.
Or . Serious troubles, not minor annoyances. Plagues of lice, gnats, flies, locusts, hail, death… now, those were .
Rear end, bottom, backside, buttocks. In proper Yiddish, it’s spelled or or , and was the origin of the American slang word .
Female busybody or gossip. At one time, high-class parents gave this name to their girls (after all, it has the same root as “gentle”), but it gained the Yiddish meaning of “she-devil”. The matchmaker in “Fiddler on the Roof” was named Yente (and she certainly was a though maybe not very high-class), so many people mistakenly think that means matchmaker.
Smart person. Literally means “Jewish head.” I don’t want to know what means.
As in Hebrew, the or in Yiddish is a “voiceless fricative,” with a pronunciation between and . If you don’t know how to make that sound, pronounce it like an . Pronouncing it like a is goyish.
Thursday, November 9, 2017
To drag, traditionally something you don’t really need; to carry unwillingly. When people “shlep around,” they are dragging themselves, perhaps slouchingly. On vacation, when I’m the one who ends up carrying the heavy suitcase I begged my wife to leave at home, I shlep it.
A clumsy, inept person, similar to a klutz (also a Yiddish word). The kind of person who always spills his soup.
Cheap, shoddy, or inferior, as in, “I don’t know why I bought this schlocky souvenir.”
Someone with constant bad luck. When the shlemiel spills his soup, he probably spills it on the shlimazel. Fans of the TV sitcom “Laverne and Shirley” remember these two words from the Yiddish-American hopscotch chant that opened each show.
A jerk, a stupid person, popularized in and .