Have you heard of Yiddish?
Yiddish is a fast vanishing language. It was used by the Jewish people who lived in Germany: mostly Ashkenazi people.
It is said that this language came into existence after the amalgam of German and Hebrew languages.
The reason why people believe that Yiddish will go extinct sooner in coming decades, is because no one any longer speaks it.
Jews who had to leave Europe, especially those who were wiped away from Germany and from those too, mainly the survivors who belonged to Ashkenazim can only speak this language and they are not found anywhere, but in old homes.
This language will not go extinct as a whole; many words of Yiddish have assimilated into English.
We use them, while actually we do not know that those words are not from German or French origin, but from Yiddish.
Here, we are going to take a look at 30 interesting Yiddish words, their different meanings and their possible uses in sentences.
Here you go!
- Baleboste – Noun: It means a woman who is an efficient housewife or a traditional Jewish housewife who knows how to take care husband and children. “Adah is not an immature woman; she is baleboste.”
- Bissel – Noun: It means ‘a little bit’. “Aharon is just after quick money; he only knows bissel about woodwork.”
- Bobe or Bobehsi – Noun: Word of affection for Grandmother. “Bobeshi, go inside the home or you will catch cold.”
- Shvitz – Noun/Verb: It means sweat as a noun or sweating as a verb. “It is that season of the year when you wear a jacket and you never know whether it will catch cold or you’ll shvitz.”
- Bupkes – Noun: It means goat or horse droppings (worthless). “The shopping coupon is bupkes because there is nothing decent on a discount.”
- Schmutz – Noun: It means dirt or filth etc. “Wait a minute! Too much schmutz on the bench, let me dust it.”
- Chutzpah – Noun: It means nerves to English speaker, but to a Yiddish it is arrogance. “Say what you want to say about Adam, but I do not like his Chutzpah.”
- Schmatte – Noun: It means a rag or ragged garment. “One main reason why I love cotton is that it is not schmatte.”
- Feh – Exclamation: It is used to show disgust. “Feh! This place is full of flies and flith.”
- Glitch – Noun: It means slipping, skating or nosediving, but in American English it is used as a “technical problem or other minor flaw”.
- Tuches – Noun: It means a human’s buttock or behind. “My bike’s seat is so comfortable and soft; it does not hurt my tuches.”
- Kibbitz – Noun: It means (verbal) joking with someone. “It was nothing but Kibbitz, but Adam got offended.”
- Gornisht – Noun: It means ‘nothing’. “His wife was dying and he all he could do was gornisht.”
- Nosh – Noun/Verb: It is a food or eating when used as verb. “I like to nosh fruits in the morning.”
- Klutz – Noun: It is used to refer to a block of wood or a useless person (who would not move just like a block of wood). “Go get some help immediately, but don’t call that Kultz.”
- Plotz – Verb: It means to explode or to drop dead. “Ah, don’t ask him for the money or he will plotz again.”
- Kosher – Noun: It is used for something that is edible and accepted by Jews or something that is proper and allowed. “So, you’ve allowed the students to question during the lecture. Is it kosher now?”
- Goy – Noun: Someone who is not a Jew. “Alte, I heard that you want to marry a goy from your college?”
- Schlep – Noun/Verb: It means hard work or hauling/dragging. “I do not want to schlep my motorbike so make sure that you get the tank full.”
- Kvetsh – Verb: It means pressing or squeezing something. “Kvetsh the ketchup bottle; it gets thicker in winter.”
- Maven – Noun: It means an expert person. “If you really want to learn marketing, learn it from someone who’s a maven.”
- Shtup – Verb: It means to push someone or have intercourse with someone. “She used to be a good shtup.”
- Mazel Tov – Noun: It is a way to say a few things e.g. good omen, congratulations or finally. “I’ve heard that you’ve got a scholarship? Well, mazel tov!”
- Mentsh – Noun: It is used for an honorable or decent person. “I’ve met the new teacher who just joined the Town’s only school a few days ago. What a mentsh!”
- Yenta – Noun: It means chit-chat, girly talk or gossip. “Do you know the banker’s wife? Yeah, she and her yenta.”
- Meshuga – Noun: It means something that is crazy or foolish. “The reason why people do not invite that drunk writer is because it’ll be nothing but meshuga.”
- Schlock – Noun: It is something cheap or inferior quality. “I looked at those shoes and the only word that came to my mind was, ‘schlock’.”
- Shmaltz – Adjective: It means someone being over sensitive. “The problem is not my neighbor; it is his wife. She is such a schmaltz.
- Spiel – Noun: It means a lengthy and long speech or sales pitch. “Hey, I’ve heard your spiel, I just do not need what you sell, so you better knock it off.”
- Kvetch – Noun/Verb: It means a complaint or someone who complains very often. “Bilha is such a good girl. However, you don’t want to meet her sister. She is such a Kvetch.”
These are some of the most famous words of Yiddish language and most of them have a Germanic background.
I bet that you’ve found a few good words for few situations, and I bet that when you will use them, your addressees won’t be able to judge whether it was something good or bad.
There is another Yiddish word which is used in modern world as well. It is “schmuck”. The actual meaning of this word is a male sexual organ, but it is used for a bad guy.
The fun factor? Whenever I use to address someone who’s acting way out of the line, they never get what I mean.
Enjoy and have fun using Yiddish.