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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 (c.f. smör/smør in the North Germanic languages).

The use and spelling of schmear or shmear in American English is a direct loanword from Yiddish, where its original usage referred to cheese.[1] In modern usage it has extended to anything that can be spread, such as cream cheese spread upon a bagel.[2] 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 one's partner will win it (see schmear (cards)).[citation needed]

As a slang term, the word shmir in Yiddish can also refer to a slap on the face, primarily when disciplining young children.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Philologos (10 February 2006). "Now Shmear This". The Forward. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  2. ^ Waldman, Amy (27 July 1997). "Sushi With a Schmear?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
    - "SHMEAR ME! ONE SMALL TOWN, CREAM CHEESE RULES". The Post-Standard. Syracuse, NY. 19 October 2012. Archived from the original on 19 October 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
    - Skenazy, Lenore (8 June 1997). "OY VEY ES SCHMEAR! SOMETHING 'UNHOLEY' IS BEING DONE TO THE BAGEL". New York Daily News. Retrieved 1 August 2020.

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of schmear at Wiktionary