Yiddish

Check out today’s Teatime Titbit: Wonderful Wednesday Words. Yiddish

When listening or reading particularly American English you may often come across Yiddish words.

‘Yiddish is a Germanic language, originally spoken by the Jews of Central and later Eastern Europe’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yiddish_words_in_English

I reduced the list from Wiki to a Top 10. So here goes with the ‘Top Ten Yiddish words” in English.

  1. bagel: a ring-shaped bread roll made by boiling, then baking, the dough.
  2. chutzpah: pronunciation IPA* (hʊtspə) or hutspa (Dave’s version) nerve, guts, daring, audacity, effrontery *International Phonetic Alphabet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:IPA_for_English.
  3. dreck: worthless, distasteful, or nonsensical material.
  4. glitch: a minor malfunction.
  5. kosher: correct according to Jewish law, normally used in reference to Jewish dietary laws; (slang) appropriate, legitimate.
  6. nosh: snack (noun or verb).
  7. schlep: to drag or haul (an object); to walk, esp. to make a tedious journey.
  8. schmuck: (vulgar) a contemptible or foolish person; a jerk; literally means ‘penis’.
  9. shtick: comic theme; a defining habit or distinguishing feature.
  10. spiel or shpiel: a sales pitch or speech intended to persuade.

QOTD? Have you ever come across any of them?

2 thoughts on “Yiddish

Great topic! Thanks for this little excursion.

As German – especially in cities with a long Jewish tradition like Berlin – was influenced by Yiddish as well, I do have come across many Yiddish words. Several ones found their way into everyday language and are used without “Jewish” label today. There are also a lot of sayings that have their origin in the Jewish culture, e.g. “Unter aller Sau” from “seo” meaning scale.

Well, and as I love English literature Yiddish words that are used in English have crossed my path, too. Just think about New York with its large Jewish community – there’s almost no chance not to get in touch with Yiddish!

Actually, I love to discover how languages have been influenced by foreign ones and thus, you hit the mark with this post, Dave. 🙂

Here are some more commonly used words in addition to your list which I like. It’s difficult to chose a selection – there are so many more great words!

Meshugener – crazy person
Tacheles – straight talking
Bissel – a little bit
Mishpocheh – family
Mazel Tov – good luck
Shalom – Hi
Shlimazel – constant bad luck
Shikse – a non-Jewish, very attractive woman that gets all the men’s attention
Verkackt – screwed-up

Hi Jenny. Glad you liked the post and it got you into discovery mode again. I know exactly what you mean and the additional words were great to read and recognise/figure out the roots. Great stuff, cheers.Dave

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