Joe Shmoe

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Joe Shmoe (also spelled Joe Schmoe and Joe Schmo) is one of the most commonly used fictional names in American English. Adding a "Shm" to the beginning of a word is meant to diminish, negate, or dismiss an argument (for instance, "Rain, shmain, we've got a game to play"). This process was adapted in English from the use of the "schm" prefix in Yiddish to dismiss something; as in, "Fancy, schmancy." While "schmo" ("schmoo," "schmoe") was thought by some linguists to be a clipping of Yiddish "schmuck",[1] an etymology supported by the Oxford English Dictionary,[2] that derivation is not universally accepted.[3]

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  1. ^ Feinsilver, Lillian Mermin (1956), "Schmo, Schmog, and Schnook", American Speech (Duke UP) 31 (3): 236–37  .
  2. ^ "schmuck", The Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, 1989, retrieved 2008-03-12 .
  3. ^ Gold, David L. (1988), "Review of Yiddish and English: A Century of Yiddish in America by Sol Steinmetz", American Speech (Duke UP) 63 (3): 276–82  , p. 276.