Tchotchke (// CHOCH-ka) is a small bauble or miscellaneous item. Depending on context, the term has a connotation of worthlessness or disposability as well as tackiness, and has long been used by Jewish-Americans and in the regional speech of New York City and elsewhere.
The word may also refer to free promotional items dispensed at trade shows, conventions, and similar large events. Also, stores that sell cheap souvenirs in tourist areas like Times Square, Venice Beach, and Waikiki Beach in Hawaii are sometimes called "tchotchke shops".
Leo Rosten, author of The Joys of Yiddish, gives an alternate sense of tchotchke as meaning a desirable young girl, a "pretty young thing". Less flatteringly, the term could be construed as a more dismissive synonym for "bimbo". These usages are not common outside of Jewish circles. The term [ˈtsats.ke] is sometimes used in modern Hebrew as a slang word equivalent to slut.
In some friend circles, the word Tchotchke, often shortened to "tchotch," may be used as a term of endearment given from one friend to another. This interpretation, which originated in Lexington, Massachusetts, is a gender neutral term.
Etymology and spelling
The word "tchotchke" derives from a Slavic word for "a trinket" (Ukrainian: цяцька, tsiats'ka, [ˈtsjɑts.kɑ]; Polish: Sg. cacko /Pl.cacka, [ˈtsats.ka]; Slovak: čačka, [ˈtʃatʃ.ka] CHACH-ka, Russian: цацки, tsatski, [ˈt͡sat͡s.ki])—adapted to Yiddish Sg. טשאַטשקע, tshatshke, "trinket". Tchotchkes are often given at Chanukkah as part of a game.
A wide variety of spellings exist for the English usage of the term, e.g. tshotshke, tshatshke, tchachke, tchotchka, tchatchka, chachke, tsotchke, chotski, or chochke; the standard Yiddish transliteration is tsatske or tshatshke. In Israeli Hebrew it is often spelled צאצקע, [ˈtsats.ke], with a tsade instead of teth-shin, as in Yiddish.
- Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press, tchotchke : /ˈtʃɒtʃkə/
- Merriam Webster Dictionary, tchotchke : \ˈchäch-kə, ˈtsäts-kə\
- The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, at "The Free Dictionary", tchotch·ke : chŏchˈkə
- Random House Unabridged Dictionary, at "Infoplease", tchotch•ke, pronunciation: chäch'ku
- Webster's New World College Dictionary, at "Your Dictionary", tchotchke : (sound file)
- "Tchotchke, chachka, tsatke ... whatever", Seaway News
- "Inside the Bernie Madoff Tchotchke Auction", Gawker
- J. Kačala et al.: Short Dictionary of Slovak Language. Veda, 2003.  (meaning: cheap decorative thing, trinket)
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- Tchotchke etymology on WorldWideWords.org