List of English words of Yiddish origin

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This is a list of English words of Yiddish origin, many of which have entered the English language by way of American English. Spelling of some of these Yiddish language words may be variable (for example, schlep is also seen as shlep, schnoz as shnozz, and so on). Many of these words are more common in the entertainment industry, via vaudeville, the Catskills/Borscht Belt, and Hollywood. Others are more regionally oriented, e.g. in the New York City metropolitan area. A number of Yiddish words also entered English via large Jewish communities in England, particularly London, where Yiddish has influenced the Cockney dialect.

A number of Yiddish words are related to Hebrew, Germanic or Slavic forms, and some words of those origins have entered English via Yiddish.

Contents

Background

Yiddish is a Germanic language originally spoken by the Jews of Central and later Eastern Europe, written in the Hebrew alphabet, and containing a substantial substratum of words from Hebrew as well as numerous loans from Slavic languages.[1] For that reason, some of the words listed below are in fact of Hebrew or Slavic origin, but have entered English via their Yiddish forms. Since Yiddish is very closely related to modern German, many native Yiddish words have close German cognates; in a few cases it is difficult to tell whether English borrowed a particular word from Yiddish or from German. Since Yiddish was originally written using the Hebrew alphabet, some words have several spellings in the English alphabet. The transliterated spellings of Yiddish words and conventional German spellings are different, but the pronunciations are frequently the same (e.g., שוואַרץ shvarts in Yiddish is pronounced the same way as schwarz in German).

Many of these words have slightly different meanings and usages in English, from their Yiddish originals. For example chutzpah is usually used in Yiddish with a negative connotation meaning improper audacity, while in English it has a more positive meaning. Shlep (שלעפּ) in Yiddish is usually used as a transitive verb for carrying (or dragging) something else, while in English it is also used as an intransitive verb, for dragging oneself. Glitch simply means 'slip' in Yiddish.

List of words

A list of English words of Yiddish origin is found below. Except as noted, all words listed can be found in the current online edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (AHD) or Merriam-Webster dictionary (MW).

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Bartleby on Yiddish
  2. ^ Horwitz, Bert (19 August 2005). "A Hill of Bupkis". On Language (New York). http://www.forward.com/articles/2611/. Retrieved 28 November 2010.
  3. ^ Ruby's World of Yiddish
  4. ^ Rosten, Leo. The New Joys of Yiddish. Crown Publishers, New York, 2001. pp. 78, 162. ISBN 0-609-60785-5
  5. ^ The worthless word for the day is.... Retrieved 7 Jan 2011.
  6. ^ Steinmetz, Sol. Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms. p. 42. ISBN 0-7425-4387-0.
  7. ^ See also Wex, Michael. Born to Kvetch. St. Martin's Press, New York, 2005.
  8. ^ Even-Shoshan, Avraham (in Hebrew). HaMilon HeHadash (The New Dictionary). Kiriat-sefer. ISBN 978-9651701559.
  9. ^ The difference between a schlemiel and a schlimazel is described through the aphorism, "The schlemiel spills his soup on the schlimazel." In pop culture, George Costanza from Seinfeld is the archetype of a schlimazel. Also, the words schlemiel and schlimazel appear prominently in the Laverne & Shirley theme song.
  10. ^ Conway, Oliver (22 June 2004). "Congo word 'most untranslatable'". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3830521.stm. Retrieved 7 August 2010.
  11. ^ Shteig. Jewish Chronicle online, 6 March 2009. Retrieved 26 February 2012.

External links