There are quite a few words of Yiddish origin in English, for example some more common ones (at least to me):

  • chutzpah
  • dreck
  • shlep
  • shmooze
  • shmuck
  • shtick
  • spiel
  • tuckus

However, is there a significant correlation between certain social groups and their (non-)usage? In other words, is belonging to a particular social group indicative of using these words? I already know that this is (supposedly) restricted mainly to American English. Moreover, I personally understand many of these words but only rarely use them actively-- I'm unsure if this is typical or not for most speakers of (American) English.


Yiddishisms and other expressions find their way into countries in addition to the United States.
Canadian English usage also includes the terms you mention and one or two more.

I can see no alternative to Jews being the group introducing "Yiddishisms" by the "definition" and implication if by no other means.

From the mid nineteenth century, immigrants came from Europe to North America. The mass of them were of lower social station but pushed upward into middle class bringing with them the Yiddish "language." Probably, the Middle class reflects the bulk of the current familiar usage. Most likely the heaviest concentration in urban centres where immigration was heaviest.

How it spread into the mainstream and why it became accepted parlance is probably beyond a definitive simple answer, however. Exposure is the obvious answer.

  • 1
    This does not appear to be an answer to the question, altho' it may be appropriate as a comment. It's perfectly reasonable for a questioner to limit their question to a particular variety of English, especially if that is of interest to them. I thought of adding some comments about BrE - I've never heard of many of the quoted terms - but decided not to because it would be irrelevant in view of OP's limitation. – TrevorD Jun 13 '16 at 0:53
  • I gather it still eludes you. – Hot Licks Jun 13 '16 at 1:35
  • @HotLicks Thanx for link to Finish site, above. – Stan Jun 13 '16 at 2:37
  • @sumelic It's a moot point, now. – Stan Jun 13 '16 at 2:37
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    @errantlinguist I could care less about downvotes. I think it's kind of cute. Some people are grumpy. I'm interested in your question and missed your point. – Stan Jun 13 '16 at 4:02

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