Questions tagged [yiddish]

This tag applies to words or linguistic forms that entered English from the Yiddish language either as directly imported Yiddish words or as aspects of speech typical of people whose primary language was Yiddish.

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69
votes
6answers
6k views

“Josephine, Schmosephine”

I recently watched A Series Of Unfortunate Events, and I was puzzled by the expression "Josephine, Schmosephine". The narrator explains that when you don't care about something or someone, you repeat ...
1
vote
1answer
192 views

Are Yiddishisms strongly associated with a certain group or are they general to American English?

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 ...
2
votes
2answers
513 views

Yiddish loan words for the foolish & incompetent

Is there a Yiddish loan word to describe someone incompetent or amateurish, or who is a small-time player in a given field of endeavor? The closest I know of are general-purpose insults like shnook, ...
3
votes
3answers
768 views

Non-chess usage of “patzer”?

I've heard the word patzer used to describe an incompetent or amateurish chess player. Is it ever used in a non-chess context?
2
votes
3answers
155 views

If someone with luck is lucky, someone with chutzpah is

What so you call someone with chutzpah? If someone who has strength is strong and someone who has luck is lucky, what is someone who has chutzpah? There's lots of almost-there synonyms, eg brave, ...
47
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17answers
9k views

Is “act like a mensch” too localized for ELU readers (U.S. and/or British English)?

This question was motivated by an interesting comment that was made at https://academia.stackexchange.com/posts/comments/123681?noredirect=1 Part of Answer: I don't think that particular research ...
4
votes
2answers
10k views

Why do American English speakers pronounce both syllables in “challah” equally?

I live in the US, and I've noticed that "challah" seems to be generally pronounced by Americans as something like /hala:/ (or possibly /ha:lə/), with either equal stress on both syllables or a slight ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Meaning and derivation of “so-and-so would know from X”

A couple of times I've seen a phrase much like "that's horrible coding — and I would know from horrible coding!" This seems extremely peculiar to me (if only because of how ungrammatical it is), ...
4
votes
4answers
671 views

Is “chutzpah” used by non-Jewish English speakers?

Chutzpah is a term common to both Hebrew and Yiddish, and has been imported into English, at least for Jews. It means approximately audacity, nerve, insolence. Is chutzpah also used by non-Jewish ...
23
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6answers
4k views

What does “bupke” mean?

There was the following passage in the New Yorker's (August 27) article titled, “A scandal at the C.I.A. May be.” : In January I (David Shafer, novelist) filed a Freedom of Information Act request ...
6
votes
1answer
7k views

What led to the increased usage of “schtupping”?

I was listening to a television show the other day and one of the characters used "schtupping": schtupping — to have sexual intercourse with Dictionary.com notes that the term's origin is ...
5
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5answers
4k views

Is there an English word for “fargin”?

I have heard many people claim that Yiddish is a much richer language than English, and follow up with an attempt to prove their point by pulling out a Yiddish word they claim has no English analogue. ...
4
votes
5answers
2k views

Resources that discuss “Jewish” English (English influenced by Yiddish grammar)

I'm looking for some resources that discuss English spoken with the influence of Yiddish/Hebraic grammatical structures. For instance, things like: You want I should... "Do you want me to..." I ...
0
votes
1answer
256 views

What does it mean “a piece of schlock”? [closed]

What does a piece of schlock mean in the following phrase? "You aren't in this game to write a piece of schlock."
2
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2answers
3k views

How widely used is the word “tush”

In my dialect of American English, the word "tush" or "tushy" is a dimminuitive of "rear end" (e.g., something you'd say about a baby, not as harsh as "butt" and a word you aren't ashamed to say to ...
7
votes
3answers
20k views

Is schmuck really an obscene word?

Schmuck is supposedly an obscene Yiddish term for the male sex organ, yet it appears all of the time in the media as an American idiom for a jerk. Can one use it in polite company?
9
votes
5answers
12k views

What does ‘shpritz’ mean?

I came across the word shpritz in the following sentence of a New York Times article (May 12th) titled, "At 100, Still a Teacher, Quite a Character": At 100 years old, Ms. Kaufman is still ...
15
votes
13answers
9k views

What does “from hunger” mean?

What is the meaning of the phrase "from hunger", as in, "This xyz is from hunger"? From the context I found it in, it appears to mean either very good, or very bad, but it's hard to tell which. The ...