Joe Shmoe

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Joe Shmoe (also spelled Joe Schmoe and Joe Schmo), meaning "Joe Anybody", or no one in particular, is a commonly used fictional name 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"). It can also indicate that the speaker is being ironic or sarcastic. This process was adapted in English from the use of the "schm" prefix in Yiddish to dismiss something; as in, "Fancy, schmancy" (thus denying the claim that something is fancy). While "schmo" ("schmoo", "schmoe") is thought by some linguists to be a clipping of Yiddish שמוק "schmuck",[1] that derivation is disputed.[2]

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  1. ^ Feinsilver, Lillian Mermin (1956), "Schmo, Schmog, and Schnook", American Speech, Duke UP, 31 (3), pp. 236–37, JSTOR 453695.
  2. ^ Gold, David L. (1988), "Review of Yiddish and English: A Century of Yiddish in America by Sol Steinmetz", American Speech, Duke UP, 63 (3), pp. 276–282, doi:10.2307/454825, JSTOR 454825