Does there exist an English word of Yiddish origin meaning “bothersome busywork” (admittedly redundant)?
Is that what “chazzerai” means? (I’m sure that's spelled incorrectly)

  • 2
    I’m voting to close this question because it isn't about the English Language. Nov 20 at 13:45
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    To be clear, you're asking about Yiddish loanwords used in English, right?
    – Laurel
    Nov 20 at 13:46
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    Yes, words originating in Yiddish but in common English usage. E.g., schmuck, schtup, verklempt. There’s a whole question topic “Yiddish” on this site; I don’t understand why my question needs to be deep-sixed…?!
    – LexLee
    Nov 20 at 14:12
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    Is there any reason for thinking there is a loanword, such as a place you may have seen it, or are you just guessing?
    – Stuart F
    Nov 20 at 15:00
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    Some Yiddish loanwords have entered the English vernacular but "chazzerai" [?] and verklempt are not two of them.
    – Lambie
    Nov 21 at 15:06

1 Answer 1


Leo Rosten, Hooray for Yiddish: A Book About English (1982) offers the following entry for khazer:

Khazer (standard) | khazeray | chazzer | chozzer

[Pronunciation:] Rattle the kh: KHAH-z'r and kha-z'RY. Hebrew: pig.

[Meanings:] 1. Pig. 2. A greedy lout; a glutton. 3. An ungrateful type. 4. A cheap selfish person. 5. One who takes advantage of another, through cheap tricks or cunning tactics.

Oddly enough, given the ancient taboo on the porcine, Jews rarely use khazer to describe someone dirty, as English speakers do when they snap "Pig!"

Kahazerish, the adjective, is used (also oddly enough) with a tinge of envy: "He lives a khazerish tug" means "He's living it up."

Khazeray means awful food, cheap merchandise, obscenity, or contemptible reading. I much prefer khazeray to its colloquial synonym, "crap." Its sonic lilt is enough to recommend it.

So if the word you heard as "chazzerai" is the same one that Rosten identifies as khazeray, it has far broader application in Yiddish than is implied by the specific sense "bothersome busywork." Certainly one might refer to "bothersome busywork" as "crap" (I think that I have, on more than one occasion)—but the world is full of things that qualify colloquially as "crap."

With regard to whether khazeray has crossed over from Yiddish to English to any meaningful extent, I think that the answer is unequivocally no. For evidence that this is the case, I point to the fact that Rosten, in his book The Joys of Yinglish 1989)—which advertises itself as "An exuberant dictionary of Yiddish words, phrases and locutions that are now part of the English language or, because of their incomparable connotations, should be"—contains no entry for khazer or khazeray (in any spelling). Evidently, the fact that khazeray is comparable to "crap" goes a long way toward rendering it dispensable in English.

  • For more about khazer, see Michael Wex's Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods, pp.72-73.
    – DjinTonic
    Nov 26 at 10:19

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