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Schmear is a word of Germanic origin, equivalent to 'smear' or 'spread' (usually fat or butter). In some Germanic languages, the cognate of smear itself means butter.

The use and spelling of schmear or shmear in American English is a direct loanword from Yiddish, where its original usage referred to cheese. In modern usage it has extended to anything that can be spread, such as cream cheese spread upon a bagel. In some cases, it refers to "an entire set or group of related things", or the expression "the whole shmear".[1] It can also refer to bribery, as a "little extra" spread on top.

In card games such as Schafkopf, Pinochle or Sheepshead, schmearing is to play a high-scoring card to a trick in the hope that your partner will win it. See schmear (cards).

As a slang term, the word shmir in Yiddish also refers to a slap on the face, primarily when disciplining young children.


Before 900; (v.) Middle English: smeren, smirien to rub with fat, anoint; Old English: smirian, smerian, smerwan; cognate with Dutch: smeren; German: schmieren, Icelandic: smyrja, Old Norse: smyrja, smyrwa; (noun) in current senses derivative of the verb; compare obsolete smear: fat, grease, ointment; Middle English: smere; Old English: smeoru; cognate with Dutch: smear; German: Schmer, Old Norse: smjǫr, Swedish: smör - butter; Danish and Norwegian: smør - butter; Greek: σμύρις (smýris) - rubbing powder.

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  1. ^ Philologos (2006-02-10). "Now Shmear This". The Jewish Daily. Archived from the original on October 18, 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-17.