Today’s (May 7) New York Times carries an article under the title, “Issues, schmissues. Can the Presidential candidates sing?,” which begins with the following passage:

“The cacophony of presidential candidates is getting louder by the day, and while they have a variety of views on political matters, many of them have at least one thing in common — a love of music.” - http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/05/06/for-2016-candidates-a-mix-of-musical-talents/?hp&action

I consulted with Oxford online English Dictionary and Cambridge online English Dictionary to get the meaning, neither of which carries the definition of the word, “Schmissues.*”

I presume “schmissues” is an Yiddish origin from its sound. What does it mean? Is the word popular among Americans?

*P.S. I should have checked "schm-," not “Schmissues.”

  • 2
    It's a play on Yiddish sounding words, not Yiddish per se. Yiddish was spoken all over the world and incorporated several local words, just deformed by pronunciation, like a lot of creoles tongues do. The "issues-schmssues" is an imitation of this phenomenon.
    – P. O.
    May 6, 2015 at 23:07
  • See also the answer to this question: english.stackexchange.com/questions/64003/…
    – herisson
    May 6, 2015 at 23:31
  • @Yoichi: Ooops! That was a bit sudden! (I forgot I have "superpowers" for certain dup closevotes). But I think the issue is adequately covered by the original question (I upvoted both though, because I like this usage! :). May 6, 2015 at 23:50

1 Answer 1


Issues schmissues:

  • It's a way English has that shows the speaker doesn't think something is important. They say the noun, then take the noun drop the first consonant, and add schm to the beginning and say it again.

  • examples: rules schmules, cancer schmancer, history schmistory.

Schm- (prefix):

  • Used to form a reduplicated rhyming compound of any word in order to express disparagement, dismissal or derision.

    • "I have to tell you, madam, that your son is suffering from an Oedipus complex." "Oedipus, Schmoedipus! What does it matter, so long as he loves his mother?" — Jewish joke


  • Imitative of many Yiddish words such as schmaltz or schmuck


  • 1
    Can I say English, schmenglish, foreign language, schmforeign language anyway are hard for foreiners to master? May 6, 2015 at 23:36
  • 1
    @Yoichi: Take a bow! English, schmenglish works fine! But schmforeign is pushing it a bit (unpronounceable and it distracts from the simplicity of the basic reduplication + schm method). May 6, 2015 at 23:41
  • 1
    @YoichiOishi As you can see from some of the examples, the first consonant in the original word tends to get thrown out in order for the word to be pronounceable (schmules not *schmrules, schmancer not *schmcancer, etc.). You could easily hear some unenlightened troglodyte say something like, “Pah! Foreign languages schmoreign languages. Who needs more than English anyway?”. May 7, 2015 at 0:39

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