Yiddish words used in English

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Yiddish words may be used in a primarily English language context. An English sentence that uses these words sometimes is said to be in Yinglish or Hebronics; however, the primary meaning of Yinglish is an anglicism used in Yiddish.

This secondary sense of the term Yinglish describes the distinctive way certain Jews in English-speaking countries add many Yiddish words into their conversation, beyond general Yiddish words and phrases used by English speakers. In this meaning, Yinglish is not the same as Yeshivish, which is spoken by many Orthodox Jews, though the two share many parallels.

While "Yinglish" is generally restricted in definition to the adaptation of Yiddish lemmas to English grammar by Jews, its usage is not explicitly restricted to Jews. This is especially true in areas where Jews are highly concentrated, but in constant interaction with their Gentile fellows, esp. in the larger urban areas of North America. In such circumstances, it would not be unusual to hear, for example, a Gentile griping about having "shlepped" a package across town.[1]

Yinglish was formerly assigned the ISO 639-3 code yib, but it was retired on July 18, 2007, on the grounds that it is entirely intelligible with English.[2][3]

Many of these words have not been assimilated into English and are unlikely to be understood by English speakers who do not have substantial Yiddish knowledge. Leo Rosten's book, The Joys of Yiddish,[4] explains these words (and many more) in detail. With the exceptions of blintz, kosher (used in English slang), and shmo, none of the other words in this list are labeled as Yinglish in Rosten's book.

Primarily Ashkenazi Orthodox Jews will use Yiddish, Hebrew, or Aramaic while speaking a version of English. Many of these do not translate directly into English or have a different connotation. For example, a secular (English) "Book" but a holy (Hebrew) "Sefer"; or regular "lights" but a "Shabbos Leichter" (or "Lachter" depending on sub-group type). This will vary from 10% in "normal" speech to 40% in a lecture or Talmudic discussion. Sephardic Jews might do the same but do not normally understand Yiddish and would only use Hebrew or Aramaic terms.

As with Yiddish, Yinglish has no set transliteration standard; as the primary speakers of Yinglish are, by definition, Anglophones (whether first-language or not), Yinglish used in running speech tends to be transliterated using an English-based orthography. This, however, varies, sometimes in the same sentence. For instance, the word פֿאַרקאַקטע may be spelled farkakte, ferkockte, verkackte, among others. In its roots, though, Yiddish (whether used as English slang or not) is fundamentally mediaeval High German; although mediaeval German suffered from the same vagaries in spelling, it later became standardised in Modern High German. This list shall use the same conventions as Modern High German, with the exception of certain words, the spellings of which have been standardised. Furthermore, common nouns shall be left lowercase, as in English.


  • aidim: son-in-law, from middle-high-German eidam
  • a schande (Yid., אַ שאַנדע): a disgrace; one who brings embarrassment through mere association, cf. German eine Schande, translated "a disgrace", meaning "such a shame"
  • a schande vor de goyim (Yid., אַ שאַנדע פֿאַר די גוים): "A disgrace before (in front of) the Gentiles", the scathing criticism of Judge Julius Hoffman by Abbie Hoffman during the trial of the Chicago Eight, whereby goyim means nation, people or non-Jews. Also spelled in varied phonetic and Germanic ways as "a shanda fur di goyim," "a schande fur die goyim," and so forth.
  • ay-ay-ay (Yid., אײַ־אײַ־אײַ) (sometimes spelled "ai-yi-yi" or spoken "Ei, yei, yei")[5]
  • abi gezunt! (Yid., אַבי געזונט): the first word is Slavic: compare Ukrainian aby (аби) and Belarusian aby, both meaning "if" or "if only." The second word is Germanic, cognate to High German gesund. The phrase thus means "As long as you're healthy!"; often used as an ironic punchline to a joke
  • abi me lebt (Yid., אַבי מע לעבט): abi from Slavic, as in the previous entry; me lebt cognate to the German, man lebt,' meaning "At least I'm alive"
  • aliyah (sometimes spelt "aliyos"): the immigration of Jews from the diaspora to the Land of Israel; also defined as "the act of going up" — towards Jerusalem, "making Aliyah", by moving to the Land of Israel is one of the most basic tenets of Zionism; from Hebrew, aliyah means "ascent" or "going up".
  • alter kicker or alter kacker (Yid., אַלטער קאַקער): an old fart (from German Alter "old" and kacker "crapper")[6] Also sometimes spelled phonetically (from the American point of view) as "alte kocker."[7]


  • balabusta: a homemaker; usually applied with positive connotations
  • bench: to bless, commonly referred to saying Grace after meals (benching) or when lighting shabbat candles (bench-light), from Latin, "benedicere", (to bless).
  • billig or billik: cheap, shoddy (said of merchandise); common expression "Billig is Teir" (cheap is expensive)
  • bissel (Yid., ביסל): a small amount, "a pinch of" something (cf. Austrian/Bavarian bissl, a dialectal variant of the more standard German bisschen, "a little bit")
  • blintz (Yid., בלינצע blintse): a sweet cheese-filled crepe
  • bris: the circumcision of a male child -In modern Hebrew Brit Milah pronounced 'brit' meaning covenant in Hebrew ברית. The last letter of the word- tuf 'ת' pronounced as T' in Hebrew is pronounced as an 'S' by Askenazi Jews in America. eg...'We all have to attend a Bris on Monday.'
  • boychik: sweetheart; usually, a young boy or young man
  • broigus: a bitter feud of anger from the Hebrew berogez (in anger) ברוגז
  • bubbeh, bubbe: grandmother; the "u" pronounced like "uh" and the "e" pronounced like "bee", not like the Southern U.S. nickname (cf. the Slavonic baba, "old woman" with different overtones in different languages).
  • bubbeleh: a term of endearment; a young boy-child, deriving from the old German: Bub for a boy-child,[8] lovingly used by Morticia Addams in the 1964 TV series with her husband
  • bubbameisse: Old wives' tale, cock and bull story (often attributed by erroneous folk etymology to combination of bubbe, "grandmother", and meisse, "tale", but in fact derives from "Bove-meisse", from the "Bove Bukh", the "Book of Bove", the chivalric adventures of fictitious knight Sir Bevys ("Bove") of Hampton, first published in Yiddish in 1541 and continually republished until 1910.
  • bubkes (also spelled "bupkis"): emphatically nothing, as in He isn't worth bubkes (literally "goat droppings", in Polish "bobki")


  • chalisch: literally, fainting ("I was chalishing from hunger."), sometimes used as a term of desperate desire for something or someone ("After a thirty-six hour shift, I was chalishing to go home already.")
  • chazerei (Yiddish, חזירײַ khazerai "filth" or, perhaps more literally, "piggery", from חזיר khazer "pig" from Hebrew חזיר‬ "hazeer", pig): junk, garbage, junk food
  • chesid: good deed or favor. "Do me a chesid and clean your room."
  • chidush or chiddush: (from Hebrew חדשhadash, meaning "new") the point, upshot, or reason, of a discussion or argument; the conclusion drawn from two or more premises; more generally, innovation. For example: "I don't get it, what's the chidush?" Also used when you are making fun of someone for something entirely obvious. "Chidush! Chidush!"
  • cholent: a stew cooked over night
  • chutzpah: (Yid. from Heb. חצפהhutspe, alt. sp. חוצפה‬) Courage, determination, daring; also audacity, effrontery. Similar in meaning to English slang guts, balls, or nerve. Can carry either a positive or negative connotation.


  • daven (as a verb): pray (referring to any of the three Jewish daily prayers).
  • dreck or drek (Yid., דרעק from German Dreck, "manure", "dirt" ): Material of low worth or lacking in quality; used especially of merchandise. Akin to dregs, "remains."
  • dybbuk: (Yid. from Heb. דיבוקdibbuk, that which clings) a ghost; the malevolent spirit of a dead person which enters and controls a living body until exorcised.


  • echt real, true (cf. German "echt"= real)
  • emmes the truth
  • eppes a little, not much, something. syn. a bissel. (from German: dialect southern Rhineland/Palatina region "ebbes" in German high "etwas")
  • ess (Yid., עס; "Iss!" German imperative for "Eat!"): to eat, especially used in the imperative: Ess! Ess!


  • fachnyok: negative term meaning very religious, often used to connote someone holier-than-thou. Can be shortened to "chenyok", or used as a noun ("don't be such a chenyok") or an adjective ("you're so chnyokish").
  • farkakte: screwed up, contemptible (see verkackte)
  • farklemt: choked up (with emotion) (cf. German verklemmt)
  • farmisht: confused (cf. German vermischt = intermingled, mixed)
  • feh: expression of disgust.
  • feygele or faygeleh: (pejorative) homosexual (literally 'little bird', cf. German "Vögele", also possible cf. German word "Feigling", meaning 'coward'), could be used for anyone slightly effeminate, "Ugh, that, Moishele washes his hands, what a faygel." Often used as a disparaging term for a homosexual male. Note: A Fayge is a bird, and is the basis of the female name Fayga. Such a person, as an infant, might be called Faygeleh (diminutive), until later on being called Faygie.
  • fress: to eat, especially with enthusiasm (German fressen = "to eat like an animal, in an untidy way")
  • fromm: adjective; religious, specifically in the area of Judaism. (cf. German "Fromm" = pious)
  • frommer: (British English slang): a Hasidic Jew (from Yiddish "frum", religious; also cf. German "Frommer" = pious person)
  • futz: verb; fool around—often used with around


  • ganz; ganze: all, the whole of ("the ganze mischpache" = the whole family, etc., cf. German ganz = "whole, all")
  • geh gesund: (from German) go in health; used as a goodbye. Repeated in reply. Usually neutral, but can be used sarcastically to mean "good riddance".
  • geh avek: go away.
  • geh shlafen: (from German) go [to] sleep.
  • geh vays: literally "go know", as in "go figure". ("Last week she said she hated his guts and now she's engaged to him. Geh vays.")
  • gelt: (from German Geld, Yiddish געלט) money; also chocolate coins eaten on Hanukkah
  • genug (from German; Yiddish גענוג): enough
  • geschmad, geschmadde (from Hebrew משמדmeshumad, "destroyed"): adjective meaning '(a Jew who) converted to Christianity.
  • gesundheit (געזונטערהייט): (from German) interjection said after a sneeze, equivalent to "bless you". Literally means "health".
  • gewalt (געוואלד; from German "Gewalt", violence): Equivalent to "oi, weh" or "good grief!" Literally violence.
  • glück (German): a piece of good luck
  • glitch: a minor malfunction (possibly from Yiddish glitsh)
  • goilem or golem: a man-made humanoid; an android, Frankenstein monster, or an insult, suggesting that a person has no mental capacity
  • gonef or gonif (also ganiv): thief (Hebrew גנבganav. This can be used as a somewhat generic insult, implying a "lowlife" ): the word has also been adopted from Yiddish into German as Ganove, also a thief (often figurative)
  • gornicht (German gar nichts = nothing at all): nothing, not a bit, for naught
  • goy: Someone not of the Jewish faith or people; a gentile (גוי‬, plural גויםGoyim, Hebrew 'nation(s)', often referring to nations other than Israel, although the Tanach calls Israel the "goy koddesh", "the Holy Nation", so Israel is also a 'goy' ["nation" in the sense of "a people", not "a state"] ) "What's John Smith doing in temple, he's a goy!" "Goy" can have a neutral connotation (non-Jews), a negative connotation (not astute or too aggressive), or a positive connotation (formal, polite). Also, among religious Jews, a derogatory term for a Jew who is both nonobservant and ignorant of Jewish law. A Jew who is learned in Jewish law but chooses not to observe it would be called an Apikoyres (Epicurean, i.e., freethinker)
  • goyisher mazel: good luck (lit. "Gentile luck")
  • graube: (from German Grobe, rough) coarsely or crudely made


  • hegdesch: pigpen, often used to describe a mess (as in "your room is a hegdesch")
  • hock: Bother, pester (as in the character Maj Hockstetter from Hogan's Heroes; a hockstetter being someone who constantly bothers you); a contraction of the idiom Hakn a tshaynik (literally "to knock a teakettle"; Yiddish: האַקן אַ טשײַניק), from the old time pre-whistle teakettles whose tops clank against the rim as the pressure pushed them up and down. Often partially translated in informal speech, as in, "Don't hock my tshaynik about it!" ("Don't pester me about it!") [9][10]
  • hocker: botherer, pesterer (see above)
  • heymish (also Haimish): home-like, friendly, folksy (German heimisch)


  • ich vais: I know (German Ich weiß)
  • ipish: a bad odor


  • kadoches: a fever; frequently occurs in oaths of ill-will (e.g., "I'll give him a kadoches is what I'll give him!). From Hebrew קדחתkedachat.
  • keppalah: forehead
  • keppe: head (e.g. I needed that like a loch in keppe, hole in my head; German "Kopf", coll. "Kopp": "head"; German "Loch": "hole")
  • keyn ayn horeh (also pronounced: kin ahurrah): lit., "No evil eye!"; German kein: none; Hebrew עיןayn—eye, חראharrah—bad, unclean, forbidden; an apotropaic formula spoken to avert the curse of jealousy after something or someone has been praised; the phrase has mutated into "Don't give me a canary!" in the Bronx
  • khaloymes: dreams, fantasies; used in the sense of "wild dreams" or "wishful thinking", as in "Ah, boy, that's just khaloymes, it'll never come true." From the Hebrew חלוםkhalom (dream), pl. khalomot.
  • kibitz: to offer unwanted advice, e.g. to someone playing cards; to converse idly, gossip; to josh or rib a person (Yiddish קיבעצען kibetsn), German thieves' jargon kiebitschen "to examine, search, look through", influenced by German Kiebitz (any of several birds called peewits [imitative]).
  • kife or kyfe: enjoyment
  • kishkes: intestines, guts. In the singular, a kind of sausage stuffed with finely chopped potatoes, carrots, onions, spices, etc., rather than meat. Slangly, the "guts" of a mechanical object: "The car was up on blocks with its kishkes hanging out."
  • Kitsch: trash, especially gaudy trash (German "Kitsch")
  • klop: a loud bang or wallop (German klopfen = "to knock")
  • klumnik: empty person, a good-for-nothing (From Hebrew כלוםklum, nothing.)
  • klutz: clumsy person (from Yiddish קלאָץ klots 'wooden beam', German "Klotz") "Shloimy, you wear your hat like a klutz."
  • kosher: conforming to Jewish dietary laws; (slang) appropriate, legitimate (originally from Hebrew כשר‬) see Yashrusdik.
  • krankhayt: a sickness (German Krankheit)
  • kugel: a casserole or pudding, usually made from egg noodles (lochshen) or potatoes (cf. German "Kugel" = ball)
  • kulver
  • kvell (קװעל): beam / be proud "Shlomo, when you said the prayer so well, I knew I would kvell."
  • kvatch, kvetch: to complain habitually, gripe; or, a person who always complains, sometimes known as whinge (from Yiddish קװעטשן kvetshn and German quetschen 'press, squeeze')


  • latke: potato pancake, especially during Hanukkah (from Yiddish, from either Ukrainian or Russian)
  • l'chaim: an expression of joy, the traditional toast "to life!"
  • l'ch'oira: seemingly. From Hebrew 'lichora'.
  • Litvak: a Lithuanian Jew
  • lobbus: a rascal, or young mischievous person. From לאָבעס lobes, לאָבוס lobus 'urchin, young rascal'.[11]
  • lox: salt-cured salmon (from Yiddish לאַקס laks and German Lachs 'salmon') eaten with bagels. Not to be confused with smoked salmon.
  • luzim: let it go, forget about it.


  • macher (מאַכער): lit. "doer, someone who does things", big shot, important person (e.g. within an organization) (German machen = doing or making sth.) "Now that Golde is the president, she acts like such a big macher."
  • Machtainista(f)[12] but some might say mechutanista(see below)
  • mama-loshen: one's first or native language, from Yiddish mama (mother) plus Hebrew lashon, tongue or language
  • mamish: really, very (an expression of emphasis) From the Hebrew "mamash" = substantially, "mamashut" = substance.
  • mamzer: bastard, literally or figuratively (from Hebrew ממזר, meaning the child of a married woman where the biological father is not the married woman's husband (slightly more restrictive than the English word illegitimate)
  • maven: expert (from Yiddish מבֿין meyvn, from Hebrew mevin 'one who understands')
  • maydl: Girl, young woman, from Austrian Maedel. "That's a shayne (pretty) Maydl."
  • mazel (from Hebrew מזל mazal): luck (literally, constellation of stars)
  • mazel tov! (מזל־טובֿ! mazl tof): congratulations! (literally, 'good constellation' from Hebrew, meaning, May you be born under a good star, or at a good time. When you tell someone Mazel Tov, it is customary to shake hands.) Literally, good luck.
  • mechaye: a source of pleasure (from the Hebrew חיים "chayim", meaning "life")
  • mechutanista(f) / mechutan(m)/ mechutanim(pl): kinship term for your child's female or male parent-in-law (Yid., from Hebrew מחותן/מחותנת).
  • mega: (from Borscht Belt Yiddish) Grandmother
  • megillah: a lengthy document or discourse (from Yiddish מגילה megile, from Hebrew 'scroll'). Production: "What are you making, a megillah?" The plural, in Yinglish, is Megillas. Aside from those who might say megilloth or Megillot, expect to hear Megillos.(see the HaMesh vs. CHomeish in [13])
  • mensch: an upright man or woman; a gentleman; a decent human being (from Yiddish מענטש mentsh 'person' and German Mensch: human being) the generic term for a virtuous man or person; one with honesty, integrity, loyalty, firmness of purpose: a fundamental sense of decency and respect for other people (from German Mensch, meaning human being).[14]
  • meshuga / meshugge / meshugah / meshuggah (משוגען meşugn): crazy (from Yiddish meshuge, from Hebrew meshugah, insane)
  • meshuggener: a crazy person (from Yiddish meshugener)
  • meshugaas: nonsense (lit. "crazy talk")
  • minyan: the quorum of ten adult (i.e., 13 or older) Jews (among the Orthodox, males) who are necessary for the holding of a public worship service
  • mishegoss: a crazy, mixed up, insane situation; irrationality (from Yiddish meshugas, from meshuge 'crazy')
  • mishpocha: family (from Hebrew משפּחה mishpachah)
  • mitzve: good deed (from Hebrew mitzvah, a religious duty incumbent upon a Jew)
  • mohel: a professional religious circumciser (from Hebrew מוהל)


  • naches / nachas (נחת): pleasure, satisfaction, delight; proud enjoyment[15] (usage: I have naches from you) (from Hebrew נחת‬ pronounced 'nachat')
  • narishkeit: foolishness (German "närrisch"—foolish)
  • nasherai: snack food (German naschen—to snack, cf. German "Nascherei")
  • nebbish: a hapless, unfortunate person, much to be pitied; the one who cleans up after the schlemiel's accidents (from Yiddish nebekh)
  • noodge: a person who persistently pesters, annoys, or complains. Also a verb: to act like a noodge (from Yiddish "nudyen" to bore)
  • nosh: snack (from Yiddish נאַשן nashn) Also a verb "Nu, stop noshing on that nosh."
  • nu: multipurpose interjection often analogous to "well?" or "so?"; of the same linguistic origin as English now (Russian "ну"), or possibly from Romanian "nu"='no'?
  • nudnik (נודניק): pest, "pain in the neck", originally from Polish ("nuda" in Polish means "boredom"; nudziarz is the Polish word for the Yiddish nudnik)


  • oy: (exclamation) Oh!; Oy Gutt—Oh (my) God!
  • oy gevalt (אױ גװאַלד): Oh no! (from Yiddish gvald 'emergency'). Cognate with German Gewalt "force, violence".
  • oy vey (אױ װײ): (exclamation) Oh, woe! (Oh no!—literally, "Oh, pain!", cf. German Weh "pain", English woe
  • oy vey iz mir: (exclamation) from אױ װײ איז מיר 'Oh, woe is me!', 'Oh, my suffering
  • oytzer: sweetheart, dear (from Hebrew Otzar, treasure)


  • pisher: a male infant; a little squirt; a nobody, (Cognate with English and German "Pisser", originating from German "pissen" = to piss)
  • pipik: incorrectly translated as a male penis; it means bellybutton
  • potch: a light spanking or disciplinary slap, done usually by a parent to a child, and often taking place on the top of the hand or the buttocks (cf. South German word "patschen" meaning slap).
  • plotz: to burst, as from strong emotion: "I was so angry, I thought I'd plotz!" (from Yiddish פּלאַצן platsn 'to crack', cf. German platzen)
  • pulke: thigh, particularly fat ones on babies
  • punkt farkert: just the opposite, total disagreement. German: punkt verkehrt; lit "point turn" = wrong.
  • punim: the face (Yiddish ponem, from Hebrew panim)
  • pupik: the navel; belly button (Polish pępek= the navel) (used by American comedian Moe Howard in the short subject film You Nazty Spy! from 1940)
  • putz: unclean penis; stupid 'dirty' person, a jerk (from Yiddish פּאָץ pots)


  • rachmones: mercy, pity
  • redd: 'to redd a shidduch': to recommend a person for marriage.
  • rutzer: very young and inexperienced


  • schicker or schickered: drunk, intoxicated (from the Hebrew shikur: drunk, cf. German [coll.] angeschickert "soused, tipsy")
  • schissel or shisl: bowl, especially a large mixing bowl (from German "Schuessel" = bowl)
  • schlemiel: an inept clumsy person; a bungler; a dolt (from Yiddish shlemil or shlimil from the Hebrew "Sh'aino Mo'eil" literally ineffective)
  • schlep: to drag or haul (an object); to make a tedious journey (from Yiddish שלעפּן shlepn and German schleppen)
  • schlepper bum
  • schlimazel / schlamazel: a chronically unlucky person (שלימזל shlimazl, from shlim "bad" and mazl "luck"). The difference between a shlemiel and a shlimazel is described through the aphorism, "A shlemiel is somebody who often spills his soup; a shlimazel is the person the soup lands on." One of the ten non-English words that a British translation company identified as being the most difficult to translate into English in June 2004.[16] (from Yiddish shlimazl cf. German Schlamassel) Schlemeil and Schlamazel appear in the theme song for the television sitcom Laverne and Shirley.
  • schlock: A poorly made product or poorly done work, usually quickly thrown together for the appearance of having been done properly; "this writing is schlock." Something shoddy or inferior. (perhaps from Yiddish shlak "a stroke")
  • schlong: from Yiddish שלאַנג ' In vulgar usage, "penis." (from German Schlange = snake)
  • schlub: a clumsy, stupid, or unattractive person
  • schmaltz: excessive sentimentality; chicken fat or drippings used as a schmeer on bread (from Yiddish שמאַלץ shmalts and German Schmalz)
  • schmeckle: a little penis, often ascribed to a baby boy
  • schmeer: as a verb, to spread, e.g., the cream cheese on your bagel; also, as a noun, that which you spread on something, e.g., "I'll have a piece of challah with a schmeer." Can also mean ″to bribe″ (to spread money on someone's hands). (From שמיר) (cf. German schmieren)
  • schmo: a stupid person. (An alteration of schmuck; see below.) Most often used in the reference to "Joe Schmo," any ordinary person.
  • schmooze: to converse informally, to small talk or chat. Can also be a form of brown-nosing (from Yiddish שמועסן shmuesn—cf. German schmusen; ultimately from Hebrew shemu'ot, things heard). The word is commonly used in the business world to refer to informal networking activities
  • schmuck: a contemptible or foolish person; a jerk; literally means "penis" (from Yiddish שמאָק shmok 'penis')
  • schmutz: buildup; dirt, often pertaining to petty household dirt (on the table, floor, clothes etc.) Also used metaphorically to the English equivalent; smut, sleaze (from German Schmutz)
  • schnook: an easily imposed-upon or cheated person, a pitifully meek persona ; particularly gullible person. (from Yiddish שנוק)
  • schnor / tsnorr: to beg
  • schnorrer (שנאָרער): beggar or moocher (cf. German Schnorrer, schnorren)
  • schnoz / schnozzle / shnozzle: a nose, especially a large nose. cf. English nozzle. (also spelled from Yiddish שנויץ shnoits 'snout', cf. German Schnauze "snout")
  • schrai: a shriek or wail, sometimes used to connote exaggerated hysterics. ("When I told her I'd be ten minutes late, she let out such a shrai!") (cf. German Schrei)
  • schtick'l: a little piece of something, usually food. Dim. of stick, from German Stückchen. In "delis", salami ends were sold from a plate on the counter labeled "A nickel a schtickel"
  • schtupp / schtuff: (vulgar) to have sex with, screw (from Yiddish שטופּן shtupn 'push, poke'; similar to 'stuff'); to fill, as in to fill someone's pocket with money. ("Schtupp him $50.") Frequently used in the former context by Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.
  • schverr: father-in-law (German Schwager)
  • schvigger: mother-in-law (German Schwiegermutter)
  • schvitz: Sweat (German schwitzen)
  • Shabbes goy: A Non-Jewish person who performs labour forbidden on the Jewish Sabbath for observant Jews; sometimes used (by implication) for someone who "does the dirty work" for another person. (from Yiddish Shabbes, Sabbath + goy, a non-Jew)
  • shammes: the beadle or sexton of a synagogue (from Yiddish shames, an attendant) (originally from Hebrew שמש shamash "servant")
  • shep naches: take pride. Sometimes shortened to "shep". ("Your son got into medical school? You must be shepping.")
  • sheygetz or shegetz (שגץ، שײגעץ): (semi-pejorative) Gentile male--the male form of Shiksa. (from Hebrew שקץ, vermin)
  • sheyne meydel: a beautiful girl (cf. German schönes Mädel)
  • Shiksa (שיקסע): (can be pejorative) a Gentile woman. (from Hebrew שקץ, vermin)
  • Shiva (Judaism): The mourning of seven days after one dies by his family
  • shmatte: an old rag. Used literally: I spilled the coffee, bring me a shmatte, quick! Used figuratively (usu. derisively): That fancy dress she spent half her husband's money on just looked like a shmatte to me. (Cf. Polish szmata "rag, piece of cloth", Ukrainian: шмата shmata "old rag") Used ironically: "I'm in the schmatte business", meaning "I manufacture or sell clothing."
  • shmegege: a stupid person, a truly unlucky one; has been said to be the one who cleans up the soup the shlemiel spilled on the shlimazl.
  • shmendrik: ineffectual person.
  • shpiel: an act; a lengthy, often instructive talk (from Yiddish שפּיל shpil shpil and German Spiel "play, game")
  • shpilkes: nervous energy; to be feeling "antsy", to be "sitting on pins and needles". Cf. Polish szpilka, "pin"
  • shtark, shtarker: strong, brave (German stark), a criminal
  • shtick: comic theme; a defining habit or distinguishing feature (from Yiddish שטיק 'a piece of something': cf. German Stück, "piece").
  • shtotty: fancy or elegant; may sometimes be pejorative ("She thinks she's so shtotty with that new dress of hers.")
  • shtuch: to put someone down, often facetiously ("I shtuched him out." Can be used as a noun to refer to a clever put-down or rejoinder ("When I told my father that my stupidity must be hereditary, it was such a good shtuch!")
  • shtick dreck: literally "a piece of dirt" (see Dreck), but usually applied to a person who is hated because of the antisocial things he has done: "He's a real shtuck dreck." Possibly shtick dreck: a piece of crap. Cf. German Stück Dreck.
  • shtum: quiet (שטום shtum "mute") (German stumm)
  • shtuss: nonsense, foolishness (from Hebrew shetut, pl. shetuyot); also the name of a card game
  • shvartzer: (שװאַרצער): Black person (either neutral or possibly derogatory depending on context) (from שװאַרץ shvarts "black", German schwarz)
  • shvitz: A steam bath (German schwitzen = to sweat). Also used for sweat or some kind of dirt or filth (German Stuss)


  • takeh: really, totally. "This is takeh a problem!"
  • tchepen: to bother someone incessantly ("Stop tcheppening me!") or to playfully banter with someone ("We spent the entire date tcheppening each other about what bad taste the other one had.")
  • tchotchke: knick-knack, trinket, miscellaneous curios of no obvious practical use (from Yiddish טשאַטשקע tshatshke and possibly from a Ukrainian word for toy). May be used to refer to pretty women.
  • tornig: a disobedient nephew
  • traif (or trayf): forbidden, non-Kosher foods; anything forbidden (from Exodus 22:30, technically referring to an animal with any of a specific group of physical defects making it inedible)
  • tsaddik: pious, righteous person; one of the 36 legendary saints for whose sake God does not destroy the world
  • tsim gezunt: to [your] health! Used as a response to a sneeze; German "gesund": "healthy")
  • tsimmis, tsimmes: a fuss, a disturbance. "So you lost a dime. Don't make a big tsimmis!" Also, a kind of prune or carrot stew.
  • tsuris: troubles (from Yiddish צרות tsores)
  • tuchas or tochis: buttocks (from Yiddish תּחת tokhes)
  • tummeler: raucous comedian, e.g. Jerry Lewis, Robin Williams, from vaudeville and the Catskills Borscht Belt; origin from the German "tummeln".
  • tummel: excitement (c.f. German "tummeln"= romp)
  • tushie: or just tush—polite way of saying tuchus or backside.


  • ungershpart: Stubborn


  • verbissen; verbissener (Yid., פֿאַרביסן; cf. German verbissen): adj. Bitter; sullen; crippled by bitterness.
  • verblandzhet (Yid., פֿאַרבלאָנדזשעט; far- cf. German ver- and Polish błądzić = "to stray around"): lost, bewildered, confused, mixed-up (appropriately, there are several variant spellings)
  • verdreyt (Yid., פֿאַרדרײט; drey meaning turn, cf. dreidel; also cf. German verdreht = "twisted"): confused, mixed-up, distracted
  • verfrumt: negative term for someone very religious or pious. "She came back from seminary and became all farfrumt."
  • verklempt: choked up; speechless; unable to express one's feelings/emotions (cf. German verklemmt = "uptight"); stuck
  • vershimmelt: shook up, rattled, in a state of nerves. "She wasn't hurt in the accident, but she was pretty farshimmelt". (cf. German verschimmelt= moldy)
  • verkakte (Yid., פֿאַרקאַקטע): an adjective, meaning 'screwed up' or 'a bad idea'; literally, 'crapped' or 'becrapped', cf. German "verkackte(r)"
  • vershtuft: (pejorative) pregnant, recently had sex, constipated. (stuffed) (cf. German "verstopft"= blocked)


  • wilde chaya: impolite or undisciplined child, literally, wild beast


  • yenta or yente: a talkative woman; a gossip; a blabbermouth; a scold. Used as the name of the matchmaker in "Fiddler on the Roof", who personifies these qualities.
  • yichus: pedigree, family background, an advantage
  • Yiddishe Mama: a stereotypical Jewish mother
  • Yiddisher kop: intelligence (lit. "Jewish head"; German "Jüdischer Kopf": Jewish head)[17]
  • yiddisher mazel: bad luck (lit. "Jewish luck")
  • Yontiff: a Jewish holiday on which work is forbidden, e.g. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Pesach (from the Hebrew "Yom Tov", Good Day, or Holiday)
  • yungotch: a rascal


  • zach: thing or item. When used with "ganzte", can refer to an event or story, i.e. "The ganzte zach only took two hours." The "whole thing" only took two hours (German 'Sache: Thing, issue'; German ganze: whole)
  • zaydeh (or zayde): grandfather (possibly a Slavonic word, cf. Polish dziadek, meaning "grandfather")
  • zaftig or zoftig: plump, chubby, full-figured (German saftig, meaning juicy), especially with a child or an attractive woman

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How Yiddish Shlepped to Conquer". The New York Times. February 23, 1997.
  2. ^ SIL International, Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: yib. Accessed 2009-08-04.
  3. ^ ISO 639-3 Registration Authority, 2006-10-16, Request for Change to ISO 639-3 Language Code. Accessed 2009-08-04.
  4. ^ Rosten, Leo; Lawrence Bush (2001). The New Joys of Yiddish (2nd ed.). New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-609-60785-5.
  5. ^ Rosten, op. cit., p. 7.
  6. ^ Cf. German "alter Knacker", for an old codger.
  7. ^ Rosten, op. cit., p. 14.
  8. ^ "Duden | Bub | Rechtschreibung, Bedeutung, Definition, Synonyme, Herkunft" (in German). Duden.de. 2012-10-30. Retrieved 2015-02-18.
  9. ^ Sinclair, Rabbi Julian (March 6, 2009). "Don't hock my chinik". The Jewish Chronicle Online. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
  10. ^ Quinion, Michael (4 January 2014). "WORLD WIDE WORDS NEWSLETTER". Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  11. ^ http://www.jewish-languages.org/jewish-english-lexicon/words/1745
  12. ^ "Kosher OC Magazine". October 2015. Machtainista - Yiddish .. united through marriage
  13. ^ "Hebrew Bible Family Flashcards". plural .. Hamesh Megillot or Chomeish Megillos
  14. ^ "Mensch | Define Mensch at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2015-02-18.
  15. ^ Naches - נחת. Yiddish word of the week. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  16. ^ Conway, Oliver (June 22, 2004). "Congo word 'most untranslatable'". BBC. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
  17. ^ Ben (2006-01-17). "Yiddish Cup: Found!". Positiveanymore.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2015-02-18.

External links[edit]