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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.[example needed]

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][3][4] In some cases, it refers to "an entire set or group of related things", or the expression "the whole shmear".[5] 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)).[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]


Before 900; (v.) Middle English: smeren, smirien to rub with fat, anoint; Old English: smirian, smerian, smerwan; cognate with Dutch: smeren; German: schmieren, Yiddish: שמירן, 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: schmieren, Old Norse: smjǫr, Swedish: smör – butter; Danish and Norwegian: smør – butter; Greek: σμύρις (smýris) – rubbing powder.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Now Shmear This". The Forward. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  2. ^ Waldman, Amy (1997-07-27). "Sushi With a Schmear?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  3. ^ "SHMEAR ME! ONE SMALL TOWN, CREAM CHEESE RULES.(News) - The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY) | HighBeam Research". 2012-10-19. Archived from the original on 2012-10-19. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  4. ^ Skenazy, Lenore. "OY VEY ES SCHMEAR! SOMETHING `UNHOLEY' IS BEING DONE TO THE BAGEL". Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  5. ^ "Now Shmear This". The Jewish Daily. 2006-02-10. Archived from the original on October 18, 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-17.

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of schmear at Wiktionary