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BS''D
Some Yiddish Words

Dick and Jane
do Yiddish!

A

B

Ch

D

E

F

G

H

I

K

Kh

L

M

N

O

P

R

S

Sh

T

Ts

U

V

W

Y

Z

 

 

 

 

 

 


A little bit of Yiddish...

Yiddish is a language that is used by Ashkenazi Jews that is related to German (but also has many Slavic, Hebrew, and Aramaic loan words). It is written using the Hebrew script. Before the Shoah, there were estimated to be 11 million fluent Yiddish speakers, and today Yiddish is experiencing a revival in America (Ladino is the Spanish equivalent of Yiddish for Sephardic Jews). In America, a hybrid of Yiddish and English has developed called "Yinglish" or "Ameridish." It is also sometimes called "frumspeak," since it is often associated with the Yeshivas and orthodox Jews living in New York City.

Hebrew/Yiddish Shirts

word of the day:


 

Yiddish is, above all, the paradigmatic "Jewish" language -- the insider's way of communicating to fellow Jews about day-to-day things (talk about God and faith is reserved for Lashon Hakkodesh - the holy tongue of Hebrew). It is at once sarcastic and dark, yet it is ultimately full of vigor, hope, and charm. In it you can hear the pathos of Jewish suffering but also the omnipresent faith that the Jew's future will triumph in hope.

Note that some of the words listed in this abbreviated glossary are "pejorative" terms, meaning that you should be careful not to use them in polite company.


About the transliterations...

Yiddish is actually written in Hebrew letters, therefore, when used in English, words are transliterated, or spelled as they sound. Since Yiddish was spoken by Jews all over Europe, accents and inflections vary greatly. This leads to variations in transliterated spellings. For the best results, consult a good Yiddish dictionary or talk with a fluent Yiddish speaker!


About pronunciations...

"ch" is pronounced like the "ch" in the Scottish "loch" or the German "Bach" (as if you're cleaning a phlegm from your throat). Normally I transliterate this as "kh" to remind native English speakers. Note that unlike Hebrew which normally accents a word on the final syllable, the accent for most Yiddish words appear on the first syllable. I indicate the stressed syllable by using CAPS. Hatzlahah! -- to your success!


A



A gezunt dir in pupik

(ah ge-ZOONT deer in POO-pik) Phr. "Good health to your belly button." A prototypical Yiddish blessing. A sarcastic riff of this phrase is: A shaynem dank dir im pupik. "Many thanks to your belly button," i.e., Thanks for nothing. A shaynem dank means "thank you very much."







A gezunt af dein kop!

(ah ge-ZUNT ahf dein kup) Phr. "Health on your head." Another typical Yiddish blessing.
 






Ad meah v'esrim shanah

(ad may-ah ve-ess-reem shan-nah) Phr. "May you live to be 120 years" is a common Hebrew blessing for longevity and a full live (based on the number of years Moses lived).  Note that in Yiddish this is sometimes spelled עד מאה ועשׁוים שׁנה.
 





Aguna

(ah-GOON-ah) n. "Chained one." A wife of a husband M.I.A.; woman whose husband refuses to grant a divorce. (He'll make no ~ out of me!)
 





A broch!

(ah BROOKH) n. An expletive, a curse. A way to express misery, disgust, or disaster. When heard -- duck: this guy is utterly fed up!
 





A chazer bleibt a chazer


(ah KHA-zer blaybt ah-KHA-zer) phr.  A pig remains a pig.
 





A choleryeh af dir!


(ah cho-LER-yah af dir) A plague on you! (Lit., wishing someone to get cholera). Also abbreviated simply as a kholeryeh.
 





Abishter

(ah-BISH-ter) n. God; the Almighty. (The ~ works in strange ways, nu?).
 





Af tsores

(ahf SORE-ess) adv. Full of tzuris or troubles; in trouble; in hot water; in "doo-doo."  (Whoever did this is ~!)
 





Af tzu lochis

(ahf tsoo LOKH-ess) adv. Spitefully: Just to get (someone) angry. For spite; Also spelled as one word: aftselokhes. "It's bedtime, and the child ~ just started his homework."
 





ai-ai-ai

(aye-aye-aye) Variegated meanings, depending on intonation, from happy to sad.
 





Alev ha-sholem

(a-lev ha-SHO-lem) "May he rest in peace" - said postpositively:
"As my uncle Henry, ~, used to say..."; for women: aleha ha sholem.
 





Alrightnik

(all-RIGHT-nik) n. Member of the status quo; one who has made it into bourgeois society. Also, nouveau riche; ongeshtopt mit gelt.
 





Alteh moid

(AL-teh moyd) n. Spinster, old maid.
 





Alter Kocker

(AL-ter KOCK-er) n. Crotchety, crabby, ill-manner old man; "old fart"; abbrev. A.K.
 





Altz iz gut

(ahlts-eez-goot) phr. "All is good." All is well; b'seder.
 





America Gonif!

(GON-if) "Americam the thief!" A humorous expression which [roughly] means "only in America!," or "clever Americans!" or "Imagine that! -- Only in America would you see that!" There is a negative side to the phrase, however, since it suggests that some people in America made/get their fortunes, etc., by trickery, deception, and so on.
 





Apikoros

(ah-pik-ah-rahs) n. Yiddish for "Epicurean," that is, someone who regards sensual matters to be all important. Hence, a skeptic, a cynic, or nonbeliever who ridicules traditional Jewish practice and Yiddishkeit.
 






Aroysgevorfen


(ah-ROYCE-ge-VOR-fen) adj. Wasted; thrown away (~ hope).
 





A shaynem dank

(ah SHAY-num dahnk) phr. "thank you very much."
 





A shreklekheh zakh


(ah shrek-LEKH-eh-zakh) A horrible thing! "Nu, what's wrong?" "A ~," he said.  Note that the movie "Shrek" comes from this Yiddish word....
 





A shtuken nisht in hartz


(ah-SHTOO-ken NISHT in harts) "A stab in the heart." A miserable memory.
 





Askan


(AH-skan) n. A Jewish social worker or community leader. Plural is askanim.
 





Averah


(a-VAY-ruh) n. transgression; sin; shandeh; pity (it's an ~ to get rid of that dress!)
 





Azoy?

(ah-ZOY) Really? Mamash? Azoy gait es! phr. "That's how it goes!"
 





Azoy gich?


(ah-zoy GIKH)  So soon?
 

 

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B



Baal Teshuvah


(bal te-SHOO-vah) n. A "master of return" or "born again Jew." A Jew who has returned to traditional observance (usually from a place of little or no Jewish observance at all). Baalei Teshuvah is the plural.






Baal Torah

(bal TOY-ruh) n. Learned man, scholar (he's a real ~).






Badkhan

(BAHD-khan) n. Jester, merrymaker or master of ceremonies at a wedding or other simcha; at the end of the meal he announces the presents, lifting them up and praising the giver and the gift in a humorous manner.






Balebatim

(bal-e-BAT-im) n. pl. Persons of high standing; reputable people; community leaders (the board members of the synagogue). The adjective form is balebatish. Balebatisheh yiden (yeed-en) refers to respectable Jews, people of substance and good standing in the community.






Baleboosteh

(ba-leh-BOOST-eh) n. A top-notch homemaker; super-woman or super woman; eshet chayil par excellence. Also spelled balebusteh, balaboosteh, etc.






Balegula


(bal-a-GOO-lah) n. Truckdriver or sloppy person of low standing.






Balmalocha


(bal-ma-LOW-kha) n. An expert (sometimes used sarcastically); a maven.






Bashert

(ba-SHERT) n. One's beloved; fiance(e); (My ~ and I are soon to be married). This word means "fated" or "predestined."






Behaimeh

(be-HAY-meh) n. Dumb animal; drudge; dolt; dull person; someone with the brains of a cow (don't sit there like some ~!).






Benkshaft


(BENK-shaft) n. Homesickness, nostalgia.






Bentsch


(BENTSH) v. To bless; recite a blessing; adj is gebentscht (blessed). Bentsch licht means to light and bless the Shabbat candles






Beryeh

(BEAR-yah) n. Efficient, competent housewife.






Big Macher

(big MAH-kher) Big-shot; mogul; boss; one who is always wheeling and dealing.






Bisel

(BIS-el) A tiny bit (a ~ of salt). Bisseleh is the diminuative.






Bist meshugeh?

(BEEST me-SHOO-geh) "Are you crazy?" "Are you serious?" Are you kidding me?






Blechedich


(ble-KHE-dikh) adj. Wan; ashen; sickly; pallid; lifeless; sickly; sick to the stomach.






Bortchen

(BORE-chen) To grumble; growl; to kvetch; bellyache (What? are you bortchening again?)






Boych


(boych) n. Belly, esp. a protuberant one. Big belly (uncle Ernie really has a ~ on him!)






Boychick


(BOY-chik) n. Affectionate term for boy. Diminutive is boychickel.






Brech


(brekh) v. To vomit; barf....  The smell of the food here makes me what to ~.






Brechvard


(BREKH-vard) n. Food that sickens you or makes you gag. 






Bren


(BREN) n. A person of great energy or charisma. A real firecracker or livewire. From brennen, to burn.






Bris


(bris) n. B'rit Milah, when an 8-day old boy sits on the knees of a sandek (godfather) and gets circumcised (don't take a front row seat at a Bris -- this is in bad taste).






Broygus


(BROY-guss) n. A mixture of being sullen, morose, removed, unmotivated, distracted, unusually quiet, etc.  Not on speaking terms; in a state of estrangement. (So he'll be ~ with us! - Who cares?)  Synonym: bummed out.  Also spelled broygis. Note that broygus can also refer to a falling out, a grudge -- What's the ~ between them?






Brucha


(BROOKH-eh) n. Blessing (Nu, are you going to say the ~ already?) Also spelled broche.






Bubbe


(bub-eh) n.  Grandmother (zayde is grandfather).






Bubbe Maiseh


(bub-eh-MY-seh) n. Literally, "grandmother's story," hence, an old wive's tale; tall tale; something patently untrue. The phrase is formed from the Yiddish word bubbe (grandmother) and ma'asei, the Hebrew word meaning "account" (as in ma'asei bereshit - a mystical account of the creation). Alternative spellings of bubbe maiseh include bobbe meyseh, bubbe meyse, and so on.






Bubeleh


(BUB-e-leh) "Little grandma"; term of endearment for children; general term of endearment (yes, ~, the check is in the mail).






Bubbee

(BUB-ee) n. Friendly term for anybody you like.






Bulbenik

(bul-BEN-ik) Someone who talks with a potato in his mouth. One who makes a lot of verbal gaffes.






Bupkis


(BUP-kiss) n. Nothing; nada; "beans"; an offensively small amount compared to the effort it took to acquire (disappointed I got ~ for my birthday).  Also spelled bubkes.






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Ch



Chai


(khai) adj. Hebrew word for alive, comprised of the two Hebrew letters, Chet and Yod. The letter "Chet" has the numeric value of 8, and the letter "Yod", has the value of 10, for a total of 18. 18, then, is gematria for Chai and is considered a special number.






Chai kock

(khai kock) Crap; something worthless (he'll get ~ from the settlement).






Chaleria

(khal-AIR-re-ah) n. A mean-spirited woman; a shrew; harpy.






Chalish

(KHAL-ish) v. faint (from hunger). (I'm about to ~ if I don't get something to eat).






Challah

(KHAL-lah) n. Braided loaf of white bread, glazed with egg white and served during Shabbat and other holidays.






Chalushes

(kha-LOOSH-ess) n. Nausea, faintness, unconsciousness. Also nauseating (her outfit was simply ~). Adj. form is chalushisdik.






Chalushisdik

(kha-LOOSH-iz-dik) adj. sickening; disgusting; revolting (a ~ appeal for money).






Chamalyah

(cham-AL-yah) A real whack or hard punch. "If that guy upstairs doesn't stop playing his music so loud, I'm gonna go up there and give him such a ~!"






Chasseneh

(KHAS-se-neh) n. Wedding. The elements of a Jewish wedding normally include the following: one chosson (the groom), one kallah (the bride), and a ceremony sometimes referred to as kiddushin. Separate steps usually accompany a traditional wedding:

  1. Shidduch - it's a match!
  2. Vort - formal engagement
  3. Ketubah - marriage contract
  4. Bedekin - the visit from the chosson to the veiled bride (after a week of no contact after the engagement)
  5. Chuppah - the wedding canopy
  6. Kiddushin - The giving of the ring
  7. Sheva brachot - seven blessings recited over the couple
  8. Breaking of the glass - remembering the exile even in our joy
  9. Cheder yichud - "room of privacy" - the closed room where bride and groom are together for the first time. Normally they share a meal here, directly after the ceremony.
  10. The reception - dancing, music, etc.





Chasseneh Machen


(KHAS-se-ne MAKH-en) v. To plan and execute a wedding.






Chasid

(KHA-sid) n. A pious person; follower of Chasidic philosophy.






Chazzen

(KHAZ-en) n. Cantor, singer in shul.






Chazzerai

(KHA-ze-rye) n. Pig food. Junk food; trash; drek; a mess (put it with the other ~).






Cheder

(KHE-der) n. Room / school where Hebrew is taught.






Chelm

(khelm) n. Fool's paradise; the name of a legendary town inhabited by foolish, befuddled, but endearing people. The Chelmites are the subject of many Yiddish jokes.






Chazzer

(KHAZ-er) n. pig; glutton; adj. chazzerish.






Chozek

(KHOH-zek) n. Encouragement; strength (give him some ~)





Chrain

(KHrain) n. Horseradish.






Chumra

(KHOOM-rah) n. "severity" or "restriction."  A extra rule or practice one voluntarily takes on as a personal fence (gezeirah) around the Torah.






Chuppa

(KHOOP-ah) n. Wedding canopy; hence, a marriage.






Chutzpah

(KHOOTS-pah) n. Nerve; insolence; presumption and arrogance (that quality of a man who, having murdered his parents pleads with the court to show him mercy on account of being an orphan).






Chutzpenik

(khoots-PEN-ik) n. Impudent fellow; someone who has a lot of chtizpah (nerve).






Cockamamie

(KOCK-a-MAY-mee) adj. Not credible; foolsihly complicated; ridiculous; implausible; muddled; (a ~ story; of all the ~ excuses!)

 

 

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D



Daas Torah


(DA-ahs TO-rah) - Torah knowledge; the Torah world; Torah perspective.






Danken Got!


(DAHN-ken Got) - exclamation: "Thank God!"






Daven

(DAH-ven) v. To pray, usually in a formulaic or ritualized fashion, such as davening morning prayers before shacharit services.






Davka

(DAHV-ka) Davka means "only" -- and no other. For instance, a child who wants only a certain toy and will take no other is demanding davkah that toy. Or when the Torah tells us to make a Menorah out of beaten gold we may ask why dakvah beaten gold? And so on. Davka can also mean "particularly, despite expectations to the contrary." E.g., "She was not the most educated person at the party, but ~ she impressed me the most." Davka generally means "in defiance," "despite."  Also spelled dafka.






Davkanist

(DAHV-ka-nist) n. Protestor, contradictor; a contentious person (what, you're now a ~).






Der mensch trakht un Gott lahkht

(der mensh trakht un Got lahkt) - Man thinks (plans) and God laughs.






Donnershtick


(DON-er-shtik) n. "Thursday;" hence, manana; "the next day" (I'll get to on ~).






Doppess

(DOP-ess) n. A useless but commiserating bystander; an ineffectual observer who is of little help (the shlemiel drops the iron, the shlemazl gets hurt, and the ~ says 'tsk, tsk').






Dorfying

(DORF-yingk) n. Boor; country-bumpkin; rube.






Dos gefelt mir

(dos ge-FELT meer) phr. "This pleases me."






Draykup

(DRAY-kup) n. a "turned around head," hence someone who's often confused. (He sometimes thought his aunt was a bit of a ~ ).






Dreidel

(DRAY-dl) n. A top used in playing a game of chance during the festival of Chanukah; in Hebrew a Sivivon. Hebrew letters on the sides form an acronym to the sentence: "Nes (Nun) Gadol (Gimmel) Hayah (Hey) Sham (Shim)" ("A Great Miracle Was There"). In Israel, the Shin is replaced with a Pey (for "po" - here).






Drek

(drek) n. Substandard merchandize; worthless junk; shoddy stuff. Also spelled "dreck."






Duchen

(DOO-khen) v. To recite the Aaronic blessing (birkat kohanim) from the platform in front of the Holy Ark. In Hebrew, dukhan means "platform."






Du zol nicht vissen frum tsores

(doo zohl nikht VIS-en froom TSORE-es) phr. "You should never know from tsores (misery, pain, agony, etc.).






Dybbuk

(DIB-bik) n. Evil spirit; demon; incubus.


 

 

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E



Ech!


(ekh!) A groan or disparaging exclamation.






Eckveldt

(EK-veldt) n. "the end of the earth."  They like to vacation up in ~.






Edel


(AY-del) Gentle; sensitive; refined; polite and modest; (he's ~). A generous compliment. Edelkeit: n.






Edel Mensch

(AY-del mensh) n. A gentleman.




Eingeshparht

(AYN-geh-shpart) adj. stubborn; obstinate; mule-like.






Einhoreh

(ine-HAW-reh) n. Without the "evil eye" - that is, said without envy or spite....






Emess

(EM-es) n. truth (unvarnished).  No one wants the ~ about the deal.






Engbrew

(eng-brew) n. English written using Hebrew letters. (Note that this is not a Yiddish word, but rather a portmanteau from English+Hebrew that is part of frumspeak). Synonym with Hebrish (Hebrew+English).






Eppes

(EP-pes) pn. Something (I'll have ~ to eat). As an adverb epes means "somewhat" (he's ~ a bore).






Eppes a nudnik

(EP-pes ah NOOD-nik) phrase: "Something of a pest." Like a nunik or nuisance.






Erlicher Yidden

(eyr-LIKR'r yeed'n)  n pl. Upright Jews. Religious Jews.






Ess

(ess) v. Eat. Often as a command: "~ before the food gets cold!"






Ess gezunterhait

(ess-ge-ZUN-ter-hate) phr. "Eat in good health!"






Ess vet zich oys-hailen far der chasseneh

(ess vet zikh oys-hale-en far der KHAS-se-neh) Phr. "It will heal in time for the wedding" (told even to a child when s/he gets hurt. The implication is that marriage is a cure-all). See Chasseneh for more.


 

 

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F



Farbissen


(far-BISS-en) adj. Bitter; sullen; crippled by bitterness. A farbissener (m) or farbissenah (f) is a grump or crabby person; a bitter person or curmudgeon.






Farbisseneh Punim

(far-BISS-en-eh POO-nim) n. Sour face; bitter-looking face; grouchy face.






Farblonjet

(far-BLON-jet) adj. lost; hopelessly off course; wandering about without any idea of where you are; dazed and confused (so ~ I wound up in New York!)






Farbrenger

(FAR-breng-er) n. Party (esp. a religious one)






Farbrenter

(far-BRENT-er) n. A fiery-eyed radical; fanatic; devotee.






Farfallen

(far-FALL-en) adj. doomed; lost; fallen to hell (he considers the prospect ~).






Farfoilt

(far-FOILED) adj. Spoiled, rotten, decayed. "Time to get rid of that ~ milk!"






Farfufket

(far-FUF-ket) adj. befuddled; stunned; taken aback (the sage looked a bit ~).






Farklempt

(far-KLEMPT) adj. Sad; Choked-up; too emotional to talk; overwhelmed; misty-eyed; distressed (I'm so ~!).






Farkocktah

(far-KOK-tah) adj. Worse than "crappy" (be careful with this word!) Utterly messed up and out of order; lousy (what is this ~ magazine?)






Farmakh dos moyl!

(far-MAKH das moil) Phrase: "Shut your mouth!"






Farputst

(far-POOST) adj. dressed-to-kill; highly decorated or arrayed (you look so ~ I didn't recognize you!).






Farshadet

(far-SHAH-det) adj. Pained; wounded; hurt. (He's ~ because I ate his soup.)






Farshlepteh krenk

(far-SHLEP-tah krenk) n. "a chronic krenk (illness or afflication)." A continual pain in the neck or sore spot... This phrase is also used to refer to a painful issue that never has been resolved between people...






Farshlugginer

(far-SHLUG-en-er) adj. Mixed up; adulterated; debased; screwed up (the ~ Democrats and their whiny ways).






Farshtay?

(far-SHTAY) Understand? Comprehend?  Do you get it? (Ich ~ Yiddish?) Also spelled farshtayst.






Farshtinkener

(far-SHTINK-en-er) n. Stinky person; smelly person; adj. selfish and insincere. The adjective form is farshtunkeneh.






Farshvitzt

(far-shvitzd) adj. Sweaty; dripping wet; "shvitz" is sweat.






Fartoost

(far-TOOST) adj. bewildered; disoriented; discombobulated; seriously confused.






Far vus?

(far-voos) phr. Why? For what?






Feh!

Excl. How disgusting! Phooey! That stinks! An general expression of disgust or distaste. (A dog sleeps in my bed? ~!)






Feinshmeker

(FINE-shmek-er) adj./n. A person with fine taste; elite; epicure.






Ferdrimmeled

(fer-DRIM-eld) adj. Dreaming, daydreaming (~ in his books)




Ferklempt

(fer-KLEMPT) adj. Sad; too emotional to talk; overwhelmed; misty-eyed; entirely distressed (I'm so ~!).






Fermisht

(fer-MISHT) adj. Mixed up in the head; turned around; confused; addled; scrambled; turned upside down and inside out. Topsy-turvy.






Ferpitzed

(fur-PITZT) adj. dressed up






Fershimmeled

(fer-SHIM-meld) adj. moldy; fusty.






Fershtickt

(fer-SHTICKT) adj. choking; gagging; utterly grossed-out and disgusted (I was ~!).






Fershtoonkeneh

(fer-SHTOONK-en-eh) adj. Stinking;






Ferkockteh

(fur-KOK-teh) adj. Worse than "crappy"; Utterly messed up and out of order.






Fehgeleh

(FAY-ge-leh) n. "Little bird" - sweet young man or girl; fairy child (derogative: homosexual).






Finster un glitshik

(FIN-ster un GLIT-shik) adj. Miserable; "dark and slippery."






Fizeynish

(fi-ZAY-nish) n. A monster; ugly individual; (for example, your daughter's fiance whom you do not like).






Fleishig

(FLAY-shig) adj. "of meat". Consisting of, prepared with, or relating to meat or meat products.  A kosher concept.






Fonfer

(fun-fer) n/v. Someone who talks through his nose; a double-talker; a cheat; swindler (he's a fonfer - watch his math!)






Frailech

(FRAY-likh) adj. Happy (~ music); festive; gay. Also spelled freylech. Happy; cheery; optimistic; in a good mood.






Fress

(fress) To eat a great deal; to eat quickly and voraciously. Fresser: n; fressing: adj; To nosh is to snack; to ess is to eat; but you fress when you're acting like a chozzer.






Frosk

(frosk) n. A slap in the face (give him a good ~!).






Frum

(frum) adj. Pious; religious; observant, esp. shomer shabbat; (he's frum); frummer (n)






Frum dein moil tsu Gott's erin

(frum dine moyl tsoo Gots erin) phr. "From your mouth to God's ears." Halevai.






Fumfer

(FUM-fer) v. to mumble; to speak like you have potatos in your mouth.


 

 

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G



Gantzeh Megilleh


(GANT-seh me-GIL-eh) n. A big deal; also - a long boring story or speech, especially if it's been repeated. Ganzteh (also spelled ganszeh) means "entire," whole."






Gantzeh Mishpocha

(GANT-seh mish-PUK-ah.) n. the whole family; the whole clan; everybody!






Gartl

(GAR-tel) n. belt, sash






Gebentscht

(ge-BENSHT) adj. Blessed (she's ~ with patience). "Gebentsht mit kinder" - Blessed with children.






Gefelt
 
(ge-FELT) adj. pleasing






Gehockteh leber

(ge-HOCK-teh LAY-ber) n. "Chopped liver," in the sense that the person or thing is considered unimportant or unworthy (what am I, ~?)






Gelt

(gelt) n. Money. Kesef. Shekels...






Genug

(ge-NUG) adv. Enough; also spelled genuk. Genuk is genuk. (~ with the tears already!)






Geshmak

(ge-SHMAK) adj. Tasty; extremely delicious; (that matzah ball soup is just ~!)






Geshrai

(ge-SHRYE) n. Cry; scream; wail (we heard this ~ and all came running!)






Geshtruft

(ge-SHROOFT) adj. Cursed; accursed;






Geshvollen

(gesh-VAL-len) adj. Swollen, puffed up; also applied to person with haughty pride.






Get

(get) n. Ritual divorce (document) for Orthodox Jews.






Gezinta

(ge-ZIN-teh) adj. "healthy;" zaftig; a big sexy lady... 






Gezunt

(ge-ZOONT) adj. healthy. a be gezunt: as long as you're healthy. "So you have diabetes, ~"






Gezunt vi a ferd

(ge zunt VEE a ferd) As strong as a horse; healthy and robust.




Gevaldikeh Zakh!

(ge-VALD-eh-keh Zakh) A terrible thing! (often used ironically).






Gevalt!

(ge-VALT!) excl. Heaven Forbid!  O help! To "cry gevalt" is to shray gevalt!







Gevaltize

(ge-VALT-ize) v. To engage in alarmist activities; to cry "gevalt!", often unnecessarily; to catastrophize; to engage in fearmongering. The noun form is "gevalthood" -- the state of gevaltizing. "In the world of Jewish leaders, one man stands alone in the annals of gevalthood - Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League" (James Traub, New York Times).






Gey gezunterheit

(gay ge-ZOON-te-hayt) phr. Literally, "Go in good health," but usually meant as "Yeah, go do whatever you like. Fine, don't listen to me. See if I care." Buzz off... (So, you want to join that rock band instead of attending Harvard? ~)






Gezunde tzores

(ge-ZUNE-deh TSOO-es) n. Healthy troubles. Troubles one should not take too seriously.






Gib a keek

(gib-a-keek) phr. Take a look!






Glatt

(glaht) adj. - "smooth." Used to describe meat that does not have lung lesions (thus is smooth). Glatt Kosher is the ultimate in kosher meat... Also used to describe anyone is extremely strict in their practice (sometimes pejoratively). He's a real ~; don't bother.






Glick

(glik) n. Luck; good fortune (umglick - unlucky).






Goen

(GOH-en) n. "Genius" (often used ironically); from gaon in Hebrew (what a ~!)






Golem

(GO-lem) also: Goylem. Zombie; graceless oaf; subnormal person. A "living" creature with no soul. This idea comes from the Talmud which says that Adam was a golem before receiving his soul. The golem became a favorite character in Eastern European literature and is usued as a synonym for "bogeyman."






Gonif

(GON-if) Thief; swindler; cheat; crook; clever cheat. 






Gooteh Neshumeh

(GOOT-eh ne-SHOO-meh) n. a good soul; a person who cannot hate.




Gorgul

(GOR-gul) Throat; gullet; (shove it down his ~!)






Gornisht

(GOR-nisht): n. Bupkis; nada; nothing; zilich (in a bad way).  (And for all I do for him I get altogehter ~!)






Gornisht Helfen

(GOR-nisht HELF-en): adj. "nothing will help"; beyond help; ruined; helpless (the roast was ~ but we ate it anyway).






Got in himmel

(GUT-in-him-el) "God in heaven." (Said in anguish, despair, fear or frustration.)






Gottenyu!

(GOT-en-yew). excl. "Dear God!" (anguished cry)






Gottseliger

(got-SEL-le-ger) n. A holy person; religious person.






Goy

(goy) n. A non-Jew; outsider. Goyeh is the feminine. Goyim is the plural.






Goyim Naches

(GOY-em NAH-kes) n. Dubious pleasure; i.e., pleasure (nachat) that non-Jews (goyim)  experience (the chasid showed ~ at the demolition derby).






Goyishe

(GOY-ish-eh) adj. Not Jewish, i.e., Gentile; goyish; goylike; golemish; goyische.  ~ traditions.






Goyisher Kop

(GOY-ish-er Kup) n. "Gentile ways," gentile brains; often used derogatively to refer to someone stupid or dim-witted. Pejorative. In general, "Goyishe" means "Gentile."






Grepps

(grepps) v. To burb loudly and with deep meaning.






Grober

(GRAW-ber) n. Crude, unmannered person; grabby bore. Grober Yung - crude youth.






Groyseh Macher

(GROY-seh MAKH-er) n.  A derogatory term for "Big Shot". That is someone who is either important or more likely thinks they are important.






Gut Shabbes!

(goot SHAB-bes) phr. Good Sabbath!






Gut Yontif!

(goot YON-tif) phr. Good holiday!


 

 

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H



Halevai!


(hal-e-VAI) "If only!" "I hope so," "I wish!," "It should only happen," amen. (Next year in Jerusalem, ~.) Also spelled alivai!






Halvah

(HAL-vah) n. Sesame-seed confection; sandy-candy.






Hamentaschen

(HA-men-tah-shen) n. A triangular pastry served on Purim, said to resemble Haman's hat.






Hamsa

(HAM-seh) n. Charm; amulet; a common Middle Eastern protective talisman, often displayed by both Jews and Muslim, representing an open hand, often with an eye drawn in the palm.






Hartsvaitik

(HARTS-vie-tik) n. Heartache. Cp. Kopvaitik.






Hashgachah

(HAHSH-gah-khah) n. "supervision." Ritual supervision, most often used in terms of kashrut/dietary laws.  Rabbinic supervision of a food product or facility.






Havurah

(HAV-rah) n. Fellowship group. Also spelled chavurah.






Haymish

(HAY-mish) adj. Homey; plain and unaffected; also: homely. Haim = home. Sometimes spelled as haimish or heymish.






Haymisheh Mensch

(HAY-mish-eh mensh) n. someone you feel at home with.






Haymish Ponim

(HAY-mish PAWN-em) n. A friendly face.






Hechsher

(HEKH-sher) n. A "k" symbol on food packaging that means its contents are kosher and were prepared under rabbinical supervision.  A symbol or other seal (originally a seal with the Mashgiach's name) placed on a preprepared product certifying its kashrut.






Hekdish

(HEG-dish) n. A mess; a slum (clean up this ~ and come to dinner!)






Hilf

(hilf) n. A godsend; help.






Hondler

(HOND-ler) n. Someone who hondles or negotiates for a deal. A bargainer. The verb is sometimes spelled handl.






Hokk

(hock) v. To pitch; ask; hawk; urge (hokking me for donations....)






Hoo-Haw

(hoo haw) excl. Hoo boy! Exclamation of excitement (often ironic).






Hotzeplotz

(HOTZ-ze-plotz) n. The middle of nowhere (found ourselves lost in ~).


 

 

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I



Ibbergerblibbernis


(Ib-ber-ger-BLIB-er-ness) n. leftovers. "~ -- it's what's for dinner!"






Ibbledick

(IB-bel-dik) adj. Sick; nauseated; blechedic.






Ich hob dir lieb

(ikh HOB dir leeb) phr. I love you!






In mitten drinen

(in MIT-en DRINE-en) adv. phr. suddenly; the midst of; along with everything else (then, ~, we see our car being driven away by a car thief!)


 

 

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J


 

 

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K



Kaddish


(KAHD-dish) n. The traditional mourner's prayer...






Kalamutneh

(kal-ah-MUHT-neh) adj. Gloomy; morose; glum.






Kalleh moid

(KAL-leh moyd) n. A girl of marriageable age  






Kapitelech

(ka-PIT-e-lech) "Chapters"; Used for Psalms and other Scriptures.






Kapporah

(kah-PORE-eh) - Atonement sacrifice; forgiveness; Scapegoat; also: a disaster; a castastrophe (how was dinner?  it was a ~ was how dinner was....)






Karger

(KAR-ger) n. Cheapskate; miser; tightwad.






Kasheh

(KAH-sheh) n. a question (a ~ about keeping kosher).






Kasher

(KA-sher) v. "to make kosher." To make of meat or utensils to meet the requirements of being kosher (often by boiling or ritual immersion). Have you ~ed the goblets yet?






Kaynahorah

(kane-ah-HOW-rah) "No evil eye!" (from kein, no; ayin, eye; and ha-rah, evil). An incantation to ward off evil influences (my child? in perfect health, ~). Pronounced postpositively in order to ward off the evil eye, especially when speaking of one's good fortune. "May you have a wonderful and healthy trip to Las Vegas, ~"






Kemfer

(KEM-fer) n. fighter; activist






Kezatzkeh

(ke-ZAHTZ-keh) n. Russian dance involving kicks from a squatting position.






Khap

(khap) v. grab, snatch; cop; understand; n. insight






Khazzer

(KHAZ-er) n. pig; glutton; adj. khozzerish. Also spelled: chazzer.






Kibbitz

(KI-bitz) v. to chat; gab; mindlessly talk; to socialize in a chatty way. Also to comment upon during a show or game; to needlessly interfere. To butt in and offer to remedy other people's business.






Kibosh

(KIE-bosh) n. 1) nonsense; bosh; 2) v. to put an end to something; veto; squelch.






Kiddish

(KID-dish) n. The blessing over wine on the eve of the Sabbath or Festivals.






Kinahora

(KINE-ah-HOAR-ah) excl. "No evil eye!" (from kein, no; ayin, eye; and ha-rah, evil). Superstitious "knock on wood!" phrase to avoid the "evil eye." (Don't go without your coat or you'll die of a brain fever, ~).  Same listing as Kaynahorah.






Kishkas

(KISH-kahs) literally, guts, intestines, literally and figuratively. Also, a thick "sausage" made with matza meal and spices, which is sliced and fried.






Kish mir in tuchas

(kish meer en TUH-kiss) phr. "kiss me in the..." well, you know.  kish mir means "kiss me." Pejorative (or teasing, depending on context).






Kishnev

(KISH-nev) n. A remote city in Russia; hence any place so far away you don't know how to get there (took some job in ~).






Kitzel

(kitz-el) tickle (also spelled kitsel).






Klippeh

(KLIP-eh) n. Female demon; shrew; vixen; relentless nag.






Klutz

(klutz) n. Clumsy person: The ~ spilled wine all over the sofa.






Knadle

(k'nay-del) n. dumpling; matzo ball; term of affection for a child or sweet chubby woman.






Knocker

(ke-nock-er) n. Big shot. Show-off.






Kockeputzi

(ka-ka-POOT-sie) n. A mishmash, hodgepodge; stew (had some ~ for dinner).






Kolboynik

(kol-BOY-nik) n. A know-it-all.






Kokh-lefel

(KOKH-lef-el). n. "Cooking ladle" - hence someone who stirs up trouble; gossip; yenta. Someone who "stirs the pot" with rumors or gossip.






Kolikeh (or Kalyekeh)

(KOL-e-keh) n. Cripple; sickly person; also: an inept performer; someone not so good at their craft.






Koonts

(koontz) n. An accomplishment (quite a ~!).






Kop

(kop) n. Head, brain; pejorative adds sheish in front... Loch in kop is a "hole in the head." Yiddishe kop is "Jewish brains" or "Jewish smarts"; smart; savvy; astute. 






Kopvaitik

(kop-VYE-tik) n. headache; pain in the head.







Kosher

(koh-shure gelt) adj. "Approved," "fit," "permitted," etc., often regarding the subject of kashrut, or the Byzantine subject of Jewish dietary law. To be considered kosher, domesticated animals must have split hooves and chew their cud; birds cannot be raptorial or predatory; and fish must possess both scales and fins (no shellfish are allowed). No animals may be trief (torn) but must be slaughtered by an approved shochet (Jewish butcher) who follows Jewish slaughtering laws. For kosher purposes, fish are not considered meat.

Milchik (dairy) and fleshik (meat) cannot be eaten together. Foods that are pareve (neutral) such as fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs, and fish can be eaten with either dairy or meat dishes (but be careful about the health risks of margarine, since margarine was likely invented to create "kosher" butter). The kitchen, dishes, and food utensils must be kashered (boiled) to prepare food, and there must be two sets of dishes (and silverware, utensils, etc.) - one for dairy and another for meat - and two refrigerators to store them!






Kosher Gelt

(koh-shure gelt) n. legally acquired money






Kosher Khozzer Fisl

(ko-sher kha-zer fiz'l) , "Kosher Pig's Feet" -- used to describe someone who tries to be "holier than thou."






Koved

(KO-ved) n. Honor; respect (show some ~ to the rabbi).






Krekhts

(krekhts) v. To croak; to caw; to grunt; to wheeze a monor pain or discomfort; to fuss or complain; to "oy." n. krekhtzer.




Krenk

(krenk) n. Illness. General malaise. adj. sick.






Kup

(kup) n. Head. Brains (use your ~) Also kop.






Kush mir in tuchas

(kush meer in TOO-khus) phr. "Kiss my tuchas" (see above for kish mir in tuchas).






Kvell

(kvell) v. To gush with pride; swell with naches. Gloat or brag.






Kvetch

(kvetch) v. to gripe; complain; to bemoan one's fate.








Kvitch

(k'vitch) v. to squeal; to scream or yelp (as in surprise or delight). n. a squeal
(she let out a ~).






Kvitlekh

(KVIT-lekh) n. A kvitl (pl. kvitlekh) is a note with the name of the petitioner (using the person's Hebrew name (the son/daughter of one's mother's Hebrew name, such as Shimon ben Rivkah)) and a short request for which the rebbe is asked to pray. Hasidim believe that rebbes read supernaturally "between the lines" of a kvitl, seeing things that were not written in the kvitl. Often a "pidyon" (in this case, a tip or gratuity of cash) is handed to the rebbe under the kvitl.

 

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Kh



Khas vesholem!


(KHAS v'SHO-lem) excl. "God forbid!" (pity and peace). (Be careful or you'll break your neck, ~). - Used as a sort of incantation to ward off evil.






Khaver

(KHA-ver) n. friend.






Kholileh!

(kho-LEE-leh) God forbid! May it never be. It should never happen. Don't even think about it! (I hope you don't get sick, ~).

 

 

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L



Lamden

(LHAM-den) lit. "learned one," hence, a scholar






Lamed Vovnik

(lah-med VOHV-nik) n. One of the 36 hidden righteous persons who often labors in anonymity. According to Jewish tradition, the world continues to exist due to the merits of these hidden 36 individuals. (What? You think he's ~?)






Lantzman


(LANTS-man) n. Fellow countryman; someone from your same neighborhood; fellow Jew; also spelled lantsman.






Lebedickeh Mensch

(leb-e-DIK-eh  mensh) n. A lively, spirited person.






Leiben ahf dein kop

(LAY-ben ahf dayn kop) phr. "life on your head." "Good job! Nice work!" Yiddish kudos.






Lemishkeh

(LE-mish-keh) n. A drag; wishy-washy person; someone you invite to a party and then wonder why you did.






Likhticheh

(LIKH-tich-eh) adj. literally, "lit up," shining, radiant, and beaming.  "a ~ face."






Loch in kop

(LUKH-in-kup) n. literally, "a hole in the head." (I need this like I need a ~!)

 

 

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M



Maidel


(MAY'dl) n. a young girl.






Macher


(MAKH-er) n. Big-shot; mogul; boss; one who is always wheeling and dealing.






Makhashaifeh

(makh-ah-SHAFE-eh) n. Witch; mean woman; a spiteful woman. Often used in jokes to refer to a mother-in-law.






Makhatunim

(makh-ah-TOON-im) n. the in-laws.






Makhen a gevalt

(MA-khen a geh-valt) To "make a scene;" also: to scream or shout for help.






Malodyets

(mal-OH-dyets) n. Russian. Clever fellow; rascal.






Mama loshen

(ma-ma-LOW-shen) Literally: "mother tongue"; an affectionate term for Yiddish.






Mammash
 
(mam-mash) adv. definitive(ly); really!  (exclamatory utterance)






Mamzer

(MAHM-zer) n. A bastard, used in senses similar to that used in English. Hence, a disreputable person; a sneak; an illegitimate person, etc. A spurious or dubious person; someone "misbegotten" who lives life without ordinary restriants.






Mashgiah

(mash-GEE-ah) n. "overseer." The person who supervises the preparation and serving of Kosher food. Their responsibility is to prevent violations of Jewish dietary laws by inspection of slaughterhouses, meat markets, and restaurants where food claimed to be kosher is prepared for the public. (Who's the ~?)






Maven

(MAY-ven) n. Expert; authority. Often used sarcastically.






Mazel tov!

(MAH-zel tawv) (interj.) Congratulations! Mazel tov on the new baby! (mazel = luck + tov = good). Mazel can be used as a general synonym for "luck."






Mazik

(MAH-zik) n. Impish person, esp. a child; coquette






Mechayeh

(me-KHAI-yay) n. Joy; delight; literally, something that has brought you back from death to life (chai), and therefore something relieving or refreshing. A great enjoyment; a real joy; (dinner was a great ~); rapture; also: a great feeling, a great relief.






Mechitza

(me-KHEETZ-ah) n. partition between men and women in shul.






Mechuleh

(me-KHOO-leh) adj./n. Bankrupt; wasted; ruined; kaputz (Oy, is he now ~?)






Meeskeit

(MEES-kite) adj./n. so ugly it hurts the eyes.






Megillah

(ma-GIL-lah) literally, the story of Esther (recited at Purim) which seems to go on and on and on. Hence, a long-winded story. Also, something in its entirety (give me the whole ~).






Mensch

(mensh) n. One who does good deeds; a good guy; (he's a real ~, the kind of guy you can always count on).  The plural is menschen.






Menschlach

(MENSH-lakh) adj. decent, morally upright, polite.






Meshuggeneh

(me-SHUG-en-eh) adj. crazy; insane. Bist meshugeh? = Are you crazy?






Meshuggener

(me-SHOO-ge-ner) n./adj. (A) crazy; crazy person.






Meshumad

(me-SHOO-med) n. Apostate; Infidel; a willing defector from Judasim (well, only if a Jew turns to Jesus for salvation -- a Jew can easily be a Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Wiccan, mystic, socialist, etc., and still be a Jew-- but if a Jew accepts Jesus as Adonai -- they are "meshumad" - and generally ostracized from the company of other Jews.






Metziah

met-SEE-ah) n. A bargain; lucky find; a break (a ~ on shoes!); often used sarcastically






Midrash

(MID-rash) n. Commentary; interpretation; drash






Milchig

(MILL-khik) adj. "of milk." Made of milk or dairy products. Describing food that contain milk products, or the equipment that is used with milchig food.






Minyan

(MIN-yan) n. A group of at least l0 bar mitzvot gathered to pray.






Mishegoss

(MISH-e-goss) n. madness; craziness; insanity.






Mishmash

(MISH-mash)  n. Hodgepodge; mixed-up mess.






Mishpokha

(MISH-poh-kha) n. Family.






Mittendrinen

(mitten-DRIN-nin) adv. in the midst of it all; all of a sudden.






Mitzvah

(MITS-vah) n. Commandment; good deed.






Mizrach

(meez-rakh) n. east, dir. American Jews face when praying. Mizrachi are Zionists.






Mogen Dovid

(moh-gen DO-ved) n. Star of David.






Mommellah

(MOM-me-lah) literally, "little mother." An affectionate way of referring to a girl. Note that this word is often use in Russian slang to refer to one's mother.






Moser

(MA-ser) n. "betrayer." An informer who denounces fellow Jews. One who exploited the hatred of the non-Jews in order to undermine other Jews. This is considered the lowest level of impurity that a Jew can sink. The plural of this is mosrim.






Moshe Kapoyer

(MOH-sheh ke-POY-er) n. One who does everything backward (from a fictional character)






Muktzah

(MOOK-tzah) adj. forbidden on Shabbat, said esp. of an object.






Musmach

(MOOS-makh) adj. certified (in something); regarding Torah, certified by some other teacher (i.e., Rabbi Yosi Eber, a musmach of Yeshiva Torah Vodath).  A recipient of semicha (laying on of hands, i.e., ordination) is called a musmach. Plural is musmachim.


 

 

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N



Naches


(NAKH-es) n. proud pleasure; special joy - especially over the acheivements of a child; gratification (esp, from grandparents).






Narishkeit

(NAHR-ish-kite) n. foolishness (a nar is a fool) "Nu, a guitarist you want to be? Never mind this ~! Better you should go to college and get a real job!"






Nazir

(NAH-zer) n. Ascetic abstainer from wine, haircuts, and contact with death.  Hence, holy roller; fanatic.






Nebech

(NE-bekh) Colorless person; a feckless soul; a nobody; the sort of person who enters a room and creates the impression that someone just left.






Nebbish

(NEB-bish) n. Loser. Incompetent nerd. Pitiful person (think Woody Allen).






Nechtiker Tog

(NEKK-tik-er tog) n. "a night-like day"; Hence, yesterday's news, "Forget it! It's history." Fuggetaboutit.






Nes


(NAYS) n. Miracle.






Nifter-schmifeter, a leben macht er

(NIF-ter SHMIF-ter ah LAY-ben MAKHT-er) Phr. "What difference does it make? - so long as he makes a living."  (Your son's a criminal? ~!)






Niggun

(nee-GOON) n. Traditional musical theme for a given service or festival. Also, Bim-Bam improvisational singing (zemirot). A Chassidic melody, often repeated several times, which is intended to express and stir one's soul.






Nisht duggehdakht

(nisht DOO-geh dakht) Exclamatory Phrase: literally, "May in never happen here!" Often said postpositively in response to the hearing of some misfortune. "Did you hear? She got her car stolen! ~"






Nisht gefehrlach

(nisht ge-FAR-lakh) "Not so terrible." "I've seen worse." "Don't worry about it; it's nothing" (~, you should hear what a day I've had!) Also spelled nisht gerferlich.






Nisht gut

(nisht GUT) adj. "No good"; hence bad, rotten, etc.






Nishtikeit

(NISHT-te-kite) n. A nobody; a piece of nothing.






Nit gedeiget

(neet ge-DAY-get) "not to worry"; hence, "No worries! Everything's great."






Noch

(NOKH) adv. Moreover, even (used ironically).  So you asked her out on a date and she accepted your offer, noch?






Nochshlepper

(NOKH-shlep-er) n. A tag-along; a hanger-on; unwanted person.  (Don't be a ~).






No-goodnick

(no good-nik) n. (Yinglish) A good-for-nothing person.






Nosh

(nosh) n. snack; bite; (let's sit and have a ~); v. to snack; noshen; nibble (noshing on a cookie). Khap a nosh!






Nosherai

(NOSH-e-rye) n. Snack foods; silly, time-wasting stuff.






Nu?

(noo) Huh? Well? So? So tell me already!! What's New? Also - "Are you so surprised?"






Nudge

(NOODGE) n/v. A pest or to pester, badger. "Stop ~ing me! You are SUCH a ~!"






Nudgedik

(NOOJ-eh-dik or noo-JEH-dik) adj. antsy; nervous; worried.






Nudnik

(NOOD-nik) n. pest; nudge; nag; someone who is annoying and persistent. Nishtgudnik. Nogoodnik. An unthinking, inconsiderate person.

 

 

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O



Ongehblozzen


(on-ge-BLOY-zen) adj. Conceited; puffed-up; full of pride.






Ongepatshket

(on-ge-PACH-ket) adj. Slapped-together; overdone; messed up; garish.






Ongeshtopt mit gelt

(ON-ge-SHTOP meet GELT) adj. Stuffed with money; filthy rich; wealthy (he and all his ~ buddies love to meet there).






Ootz

(oots) v. to needle; vex; torment; annoy; (stop ~ing me already!)






Oy!

(OIY) excl. Denotes disgust, pain, astonishment or rapture.






Oy Gevalt!

(OIY GE-VALT) phr. "Oh my G-d!" An exclamation of fear, panic, astonishment, etc. A cry for help; "May a great Power intervene!" (also as a noun: made an ~).






Oy Gotenyu!

(OIY GAWT-en-yoo) phr. "G-d help us!" An exclamation panic to G-d.






Oysgeshpilt

(OYS-geh-shpilt) adj. Exhausted; worn out; also out of date (~ fashion).






Oy Vay!

Phr. How terrible! That's horrible! Also spelled Oy Vey!






Oysvorf

(OYS-vorf) n. An outcast; a pariah; a throwaway.

 

 

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P



Pager


(PAY-ger) v. to die a martyr's death (the weather is so hot you could ~)






Pareve

(PAR-veh) adj. Yiddish - "neutral." Describing food that contains neither milk or meat, or equipment used with such food. Prepared without meat, milk, or their derivatives and therefore permissible to be eaten with both meat and dairy dishes according to kashrut laws.






Paskudnik

(pas-KOOD-nik) n. A nasty, deceiving low-life.






Payess

(PAY-ess) Long curling sidelocks worn by some Orthodox Jewish men; ear-ringlets; long sideburns. (plural: Payot).






Pintele

(PIN-te-leh) n. the point of a Jew. The "spark" of Jewishness within all Jews.






Pisha Paysha

(PISH-ah PAY-sha) n. A simple card game (are you playing bridge or ~?)






Pisk

(pisk) n. Mouth. Big mouth. Loudmouth.






Pishkeh

(PISH-keh) n. lit. "little pisser." An underdog; an undersized champion.





Pitzl

(PITS-zel) n. A tiny bit; a little thing; also: small child.






Plotz

(plotz) v. To explode (as with joy or food). (laugh until you ~!; eat until you ~!)






Potch

(pawtch) n. a painless, light, slap.






Potchki

(PAWTCH-key) v. to dabble; try your hand; play at; play around with: "I don't really work with wood, I just ~ a bit."






Potchkied

(PAWTCH-key'd) adj. overdone, overwrought (It's a bit ~, don't you think?)






Pritzeh

(PREET-zeh) n. A princess.






Prost

(prost) adj. Plain; simple; boorish; unrefined; also proster (as in a ~ Jew).






Punim

(POO-num) n. face (what's with the long  ~?). Also ponum, panum, etc.






Pupik

(POO-pik) n. Navel; belly button (could see her ~)






Pushka

(PUSH-keh) n. Tzeddekah box; small coin box; any box or can.






Putz

(putz) n. Pejorative. A term used to describe a nasty, petty, and small-minded man.

 

 

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R



Rachmanut

(RAKH-ma-noot) n. mercy; rachmones.






Rachmones


(rakh-MOHN-es) n. Pity; compassion; empathy; from the Hebrew word rechem (womb).






Rav

(rahv) n. Rabbi/religious leader of the community.






Reb

(reb) n. Short for rebbe (Yiddish, "rabbi"). Applied generally to a teacher or Hasidic rabbi, though (as in this case of "Reb Tevye" in Fiddler on the Roof) it's a title added as a sign of respect. 






Rebbe

(RE-bay) n. Rabbi. A Hebrew teacher. Rebbe is a term often used for the spiritual leader of a group of Chasidim, not necessarily the formal rabbi of a community. In Hebrew, a rebbe is often referred to as "admor," an abbreviation for Adoneinu, Moreinu, veRabbeinu ("Our master, our teacher, and our rabbi"). In writing, this title is placed before the name, as in "Admor of Minsk"; while the title rebbe comes after the name when used as an adjective, as in "Amshinever Rebbe." The Hebrew letters for Rebbe (resh-bet-yod) form an acronym for "rosh bnei yisrael", meaning "the spiritual head of the children of Israel."






Rebitzin

(reb-BITZ-in) n. Rabbi's wife






Rugula

(ROO-ge-luh) n. Small rolled-up cookies, laced with cinnamon, nuts, raisons, etc. (if you haven't tasted a good rugula from a Jewish bakery, you don't know what you're missing!)

 

 

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S



Sandek


(SAN-dek) n. Jewish godfather. The man who holds the baby boy during the rite of circumcision (bris).






Schach

(skakh) n. Loose thatch used for the sukkah roof, must be from plant materials.






Sechel


(SEH-khel) n. Good sense; common sense; reasonable; judgment; tact; diplomacy; good understanding (she's got ~!) (known for his ~). Also spelled saychel, seychel, etc.






Simcha

(sim-kha) Happy occasion; celebration; great pleasure. Also: blessing.  Sometimes spelled Simche – festive joy (nu, let's have a ~).






Slivovitz

(SLIV-o-vitz) n. Potent plum wine; booze in general (keeps away from the ~).






Smontzess

(SMON-tzes) n. gadget; electronic gadgets. (He wants to go buy the latest ~).

 

 

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Sh



Shabbes Goy

(SHAB-es Goy) n. A gentile who does work for Orthodox Jews on Shabbat - when all work is prohibited; hence, someone who does another's dirty work.






Shabbes

(SHAH-bes) n. Sabbath; from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.






Shabtsitvaynik

(shab-sit-VINE-ik) n. False prophet; fake seer; a follower of a religious charlatan.






Shadchan

(SHAD-khan) n. Matchmaker (shiddach = match)






Shaifeleh

(SHAFE-e-leh) n. a dear, innocent lamb; a little innocent child or babe.






Shailah

(SHAY'luh) n. A question, esp. on religious matters. Also spelled sheilah.






Shlaf

(shlaf) n. nap; some sleep (Take a little ~ and get back to me.) Sometimes spelled schalf.






Shaliach Tzibur

(shay-LEE-akh TZEE-bur) (abbr. shatz) "messenger" of the congregation; a cantor.






Shammes

(SHAM-mes) Caretaker of a shul; hence anyone who is in charge: "control freak."






Shandeh

(SHAHN-deh) n. A shame; a scandal; a crying shame (sometimes used sarcastically). Also spelled shanda.






Shaygetz

(SHAY-gets) n. A detested thing or an "abomination" (i.e., sheketz: שֶׁקֶץ, from שׁ- ["that"] and קֵץ ["end"]), which was altered to say "shegetz" in Yiddish. The term is sometimes employed humorously to apply to a mischievous boy, though later it came to be associated with a non-Jewish boy or a "charmer." Also spelled sheygetz, sheygets, and so on.






Shayna

(SHAY-neh) adj. Pretty; precious (every baby has a ~ face).  A shayna maideleh is a beautiful girl.






Shayna Maideleh

(SHAY-neh MAY-del-eh) n. Pretty girl.  Also spelled shaineh maidel. Shainkeit is beauty.






Shayner Yid

(SHAY-ner yeed) n. Beautiful Jew.






Shechita

(she-khee-TAH) n. "slaughtering". The practice of Kosher slaughtering of animals. A shochet is the approved butcher.






Sheilah

(SHAY'luh) n. A question, esp. on religious matters. Also spelled shailah.






Shemevdik

(she-MEV-dik) adj. shy, bashful






Shepleffel

(SHEP-lef-el) n. a spatula.






Shepn Naches

(SHEP-en NAH-khes) phr. "get satisfaction" (from shept - "to get" and naches); (he finds his way to ~, even in this mess).






Shidduch

(shid-DOOKH) n. Matchmaking; the process of finding a marraige partner in Orthodox Judaism.






Shikseh

(SHIK-seh) n. Non-Jewish girl or woman; hence, seductress. Also spelled shiksa.






Shiur

(SHIH-ur) n. Lesson; study session; devar torah; class; lesson, Torah lesson; plural is shiurim.






Shiva

(SHIH-vah) n. Death / mouring ritual (sitting ~).






Shkapeh

(SHKAP-eh) n. Cheap or worthless object.






Schlecht

(shlekht) adj. generally bad






Shlemazl

(shle-MAZ'l) n. unlucky person; victim; (the poor ~ had his car stolen).






Shikker

(SHIK-ker) n. Drunkard. adj. Drunk; inebriated (he got a bit ~).






Shlemiel

(shlah-MEE-el) n. Fool; fumbler; dolt; clumsy person.






Shlep

(shlep) v. to drag; to lug; carry about laboriously; to accept a burden greater than anyone should be expected to bear; shlepper: n.






Shlepper

(SHLEP-er) n. A drip; a jerk; a shabby person or a nonentity who works for low wages.






Shlock

(shlock) n. shoddy article; drek; adj. cheap; fake; defective (~ merchandise). A schlockmeister is a dealer in shoody goods.






Shlotlz

(sholtz) n. Arrogance; chutzpah. Why such ~ coming from this nebbish?






Shluf

(shloof) n. nap; some sleep (Take a little ~ and get back to me.)  Sometimes spelled schalf.






Shlukh

(shlukh) n. Slob; unkempt person; yucky slob. zhlub.






Shlumper

(shlump'er) n. Slob; frumpy person; someone with bad posture.






Shlumperdik

(shlum-per-dik) n./adj. Sloppy; messy; untidy; the effects of being a shlump (went into his ~ closet)






Shmaltz

(shmaltz) n. Chicken fat; lard; corn; hence - pathos; mawkishness; shmaltzy: adj.






Shmatte

(SHMAT-eh) n. Rag; old tattered dress; shoddy clothing (you call this a dress?
It's a ~!).  Also spelled schmatte.






Shmaykhel

(shmay-kel) n. Smile. As a verb: to make nice; smile; butter up; ingratiate (go and ~ with him; who knows?  Maybe he'll give you that job!) Also spelled Schmeichl.






Shmegegee

(shme-GEH-gee) n. unadmirable petty person; an untalented nebbish; a nobody. (She ended up marrying some ~ from Toldeo).






Shmei

(SHMY) v. To gossip -- with relish (now that's something to ~ about!) 






Shmei Drei

(SHMY-dry) n. Baloney; empty talk; gossip (he told millions of Americans a lot of ~).






Shmekeleh

(SHMEK-e-leh) n. 1) Petty little jerk; 2) -- don't ask. (be careful with this word!)






Shmendrick

(SHMEN-drik) n. Wimpy nebekh; pipsqueak; spineless and feeble man. Hence, a loser; dolt; nincompoop; inept person.






Shmoe

(shmoe) n. A sucker; a person easily taken advantage of; a mark.  Also spelled schmo.






Shmoiger

(SHMOY-ger) n. (pejorative)  A shmuck, but really stupid.






Shmooze

(shmooze) v. To chat; flatter; network. The word comes from the same Hebrew root as the Shema (שמע), which means to listen or to share converstation with friends. Both people talk, and both people listen.  (a lot of ~ing at the company cocktail party).






Shmuck

(SHMUK) n. (pejorative) The male reproductive organ; hence, a jerk.






Shmutz

(shmutz) n. Dirt; grime; smotz






Shmutzig

(SHMUT-zig) adj. Dirty; grimy; soiled.






Shmy

(SHMY) v. To stroll, wander; even window-shop. (We shmyed about all day).






Shnippishok

(SHNIP-pe-shawk) n. Mythical city used in many jokes and proverbs.






Shnook

(shnook) n. a gullible simpleton more to be pitied than despised; a dupe; patsy.






Shnorrer

(SHNOR-er) n. "Seeker of funds." Pejoratively - Moocher; freeloader; someone who always wants a bite of your sandwich; beggar. Historically, a shnorrer was one who solicited funds on behalf of a Yeshivah (rabbinical school) or who would offer a lesson or sermon in exchange for food, lodging, etc. Note: In certain contexts, being a shnorrer (also spelled schnorrer) is considered an honorable thing, since the Jewish community depends upon the solicitations for tzedakah for its very survival. Some sages have even said that the schnorrer who works for the sake of Heaven enjoys the highest reward in the world to come. This conclusion is obtained by considering the prophet Isaiah's words: "And the work of righteousness (tzedekah) shall be peace" (Isa. 32:17). Shnooring is adj. form.






Shnoz

(SHNAHZ) n. Nose.






Shoah

(SHOW-uh) n. The holocaust: We remember victims of the Shoah each spring.






Shochet

(SHOW-ket) n. Butcher. A man in the Jewish community who is authorized to kill animals according to shechita (ritual slaughter).




Shomer

(SHOW-mer) n. Frum Jew. Short for Shomer Torah u'mitvzot. A person who attempts to keep the laws of Torah and its mitzvot (esp. regarding dietary laws and Shabbos).






Shpatzir

(SHPAT-zir) n. Stroll; walk; v. to stroll; hike. Also spelled shpotzir. (~ around the mall).






Shpiel

(SHPEEL) n. Story; tale; megillah; (listened to the whole ~).






Shpilkes

(SHPIL-kes) Lit. "pins." n. nervous energy; restlessness; "ants in the pants."






Shray

(SHRAY) v. To cry; scream; to exclaim. "Why does Foxman always shray gevalt?"






Shrek

(SHREK) n. Alarm; fear, terror






Shreklekh

SHREKH-lekh) adj. Terrifying, awful, alarming, bad; shreklekheh zakh - terrible thing.






Shtarker

(SHTAHR-ker) n/adj. Strong and manly; masculine; a thug.






Shtetl

(SHTET-el) small town or village (usually of Eastern Europe).






Shtiebl

(SHTYE-bel) n. A small synagogue, often a storefront or private home.






Shtik

(SHTIK) n. "piece"; hence a routine; bit; an act; a piece of acting (what's with the ~?)






Shtik Goy

(SHTIK goy) n. "Piece of Goy" -- an irreligious Jew.






Shtik naches

(SHTIK nakh-es) n. "Piece of joy" -- a joyful thing or moment.






Shtikl

(SHTIK-el) dim. of Shtik, piece; bissel; small piece; bit






Shtop

(SHTAWP) v. To stuff full (until bursting). (She ~s her house with trinkets).






Shtreimel

(SHTRAY-mel) n. A large, round, fur-edged hat worn by chasidim.






Shtummie

(SHTOO-mee) n. a dope; a dummy; a clod.






Shtup

(SHTOOP) v. To fornicate; (dangerous!  Do not use this word in polite company!)






Shtunk

(shtoonk) n. A stinker; a jerk a nasty person.






Shtuss

(shtoos) n. Commotion (don't make a ~).






Shuckling

(shuk'ling) n. shaking (also written as shokeling). The verb is to shuckle. The ritual swaying of Jewish worshippers during prayer, usually forward and back but also from side to side. Allegedly it's origin goes back to the time when people would take turns reading from the same Siddur -- standing around the book, bobbing back and forth. Other reasons have been given for the practice, however, such as providing a means for inducing greater kavvanah (concentration). (shacharit ~).






Shul

(shool) n. A synagogue; (from "school")






Shvach

(SHVAKH) adj. weak; tepid, unsubstantial (sales were a bit ~); The noun form is shvachkeit.






Shvantz

(shvantz) n. Putz; male organ; also tail; buttocks (pejorative word!); also spelled shvontz






Shvartz

(shvartz) adj. Black; ominous; gloomy; ill-starred; (a ~ play); also, unskilled (~ labor). Note this word can be construed as offensive, so be careful.






Shvaig

(shvaig - "ai" as in "aisle.") v. [imperative] Be quiet! Shut up! Shush! (so ~, it doesn't matter!)






Shvair

(shvair) n. father-in-law






Shvitz

(shvitz) v. 1) to sweat; perspire; 2) to brag; to boast (~ing about his business). Note that shvais is the noun form (perspiration).






Smicheh

(SME-kheh) n. Rabbinical ordaination (Hebrew: Semikhah). Confirms by a Rabbi or Rabbonim of a Yeshiva after a completing a course of study.

 

 

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Tachliss

(TAKH–liss) exclamation. Talk turkey! Speak frankly! Get to the point! From the Hebrew tachlit, which means "ultimate purpose."






Takke

(TAH–keh) exclamation. "Truly,"  "I'll say!" "Absolutely!" "No doubt" (that's ~ some dinner!)






Tanz

(TAHNZ) v. To dance; to waltz (she tanzed in without saying a word).






Tateleh


(TAHT-e-leh) n. "Little father (tatte)." A term of endearment for a man.






Tatte

(TAHT-eh) n. Father; daddy.  The old Yiddish song, "A ~ seeks his children in the forest" always chokes me up.






Tchatzkah

(TCHATZ-kah) A trinket or bauble; a knick-knack. The plural is tchatzkies.






Tish

(tish) n. (also feert tish) A communal festive meal with highly mystical overtones, led by a Rebbe on Shabbos and other occasions. (join me at the ~?)






Tokke?

(TAH-key) "Would you believe?" "Can you imagine?" Why did she marry such a man who is, ~, without a penny?





Toomel

(TOO-mel) n. Chaos; disorder; tumult.






Treyf

(TRAYF) adj/n. non-kosher; unclean; "torn," meat not suitable to be eaten; any non-kosher food. Also spelled t'refah (TRAY-feh); treif; etc.






Tuchas

(TOO-khas) n. buttocks; tush; rear-end (fell right on her ~).






Tuchas Leker

(TOO-khas LE-ker) n. "rear-end" kisser; used to describe an obsequious fawner or someone who is loyal - and stupid.  Pejorative.

 

 

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Ts / Tz



Tseshmetter


(te'SHMET-ter) v. to smash to pieces; pulverize; clobber.






Tsedoodelt

(tseh-DOOD-eldt) adj. Mixed up; confused; messed up; farblonjet






Tsimmes

(SIM-es) n.  A stew of sweetened vegetables or vegetables and fruit, sometimes with meat. hence, a big fuss or muddle.






Tsuris

(TSOOR-es) Troubles; woes; worries; suffering; grief; heartache. Also spelled tzuris.






Tzaddik

(TSAD-deek) n. A saint; a holy man (or woman). (Look who's the new ~!)






Tzeniyut

(zen-ee-OOT) n. Modesty of dress and behavior. Sometimes transliterated as Zeniut (also Tznius; also "tzniusdik").  The rules of modesty; chastity; opposite of shamelessness.  Women are required to be covered from the neck to the knee, and to have sleeves to the elbow. The Chasidim have a more stringent rules that require a woman to have sleeves to the wrist and to wear stockings. The laws of tzeniut also require a married woman to have her hair covered and to refrain from being touched by a man other than her husband (or immediate family members).

 

 

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U



Umbashrien!


(oom-ba-SHRINE) "God forbid!" 






Umglick


(UM-glik) n./adj. unlucky person; loser (he's been ~ all his life).






Umshteller


(UM-shtell-er) Braggart; shoff-off; kolboynik (Izzy the ~).






Upsherin

(OOP-sher-en) A traditional Jewish haircutting ceremony that takes place when a male Jewish boy reaches the age of three years. A boy undergoing this is said to be upsherenish. The first haircut is often styled to give the boy peyot (sidelocks). This custom is sometimes said to originate from speculations on Deut. 20:19 ("A person is like the tree of a field..."), and the first threee years of the tree's fruit were forbidden to be harvested (Lev 19:23).






Utz

(oots) v. to needle; vex; torment; annoy; (stop ~ing me already!)

 

 

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V


(Note: check also under "F")

Varf

(varft) n/v. Barf.






Vat?

(vaht) What?






Vee Geyts?

(vee GATES) phr. "How's it going?"






Ver derharget

(vayr de-HAR-get) Get killed, i.e., drop dead.






Vey is mir!

(VAY iss meer) phr. "I am pain itself" (a melodramtic way of expressing some disappointment or frustration).






Vilde Mensch

(vil-de mensh) n. "Wild man" (think of a "heavy metal" rock and roll musician)






Vitz

(vitz) n. joke; witicism; wisecrack; (heard a good ~ lately?)

 

 

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W



Wedding


The elements of a Jewish wedding normally include the following: one chosson (the groom), one kallah (the bride), and a ceremony sometimes referred to as kiddushin. Separate steps usually accompany a traditional wedding:

  1. Shidduch - it's a match!
  2. Vort - formal engagement
  3. Ketubah - marriage contract
  4. Bedekin - the visit from the chosson to the veiled bride (after a week of no contact after the engagement)
  5. Chuppah - the wedding canopy
  6. Kiddushin - The giving of the ring
  7. Sheva brachot - seven blessings recited over the couple
  8. Breaking of the glass - remembering the exile even in our joy
  9. Cheder yichud - "room of privacy" - the closed room where bride and groom are together for the first time. Normally they share a meal here, directly after the ceremony.
  10. The reception - dancing, music, etc.

 

 

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Y



Yakhsen


(YAHK'sen) n. A distinguish person of aristocratic lineage.






Yarmulke

(YAR-mul-keh) n. Skull cap.  A Jewish head-covering, esp. for males during prayer or during prayer services. In Hebrew, "kippah." Customs about what it looks like, who wears it, and when it is worn have varied from time to time and from place to place.





Yarhzeit

(YAHR-tzite) "Year's Time" n. Anniversary of the day of death of parents or other relatives; yearly remembrance of the dead. A Yahrzeit candle is usually lit so it can burn for 24 hours on the Yahrzeit of a loved one (or on other special occasions, such as Yom HaShoah).






Yasher Koyech

(YAH-sheer KOY-ekh) phr. "May your strength continue." (Yasher Koach)






Yatehbedam

(yah-te-BE-dam) n. Someone who utters empty threats; blusterer.






Yenta

(YEN-ta) Busybody; gossip; yakhneh.






Yentz

(yents) To cheat someone a little in business; to get the better of in a transaction.






Yeshiva

(ye-SHEEV-ah) n. Religious school; rabbinical school.






Yeshiva Bocher

(ye-SHEEV-ah BOKH-er) n. A young male yeshiva student. Sometimes this phrase is used to refer to any young boy who is a student of Torah and esp. Talmud texts. Also spelled Yeshiva bachur.






Yichus

(YI-khus)  n. (Hebrew: yichut).  A person's background pertaining to their ancestors. Ancestry. Lineage. (has the ~ of a Kohen)






Yid

(yeed) n. Jew (pl. Yiddn). May be offensive.





Yiddisher Kop

(yeed-dish-er KOP) n. "Jewish brains"; smart; savvy; astute.






Yiddishkeit

(YEED-ish-kite) n. Jewishness; flavor of Jewish traditons or customs. Something that evokes Jewish heritage.






Yontif

(YON-tiff) n. Yom tov (holiday). Sometimes used in the expression, "Gut Yontif" - a good holiday!






Yutz

(yutz) n. an incompetent person; a social misfit or awkward person; a clutz.

 

 

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Z



Zaftig


(ZAF-tig) adj. plump and appealing (as a woman); buxom and enticing.






Zager

(ZAY-ger) v. To play the angles; to angle for; connive (he knows how to ~!)






Zayde

(ZAY-deh) n. Grandfather (Bubbe - grandmother).






Zeeskyte

(ZEES-kite) n/adj. Sweetie






Zetz

(zets) n. A smack. A slap.






Zeyer sheyn gezogt!

(zair shayne-ge-ZOGT) Excl. "Well said!" well put!"






Zhlub

(zhlub) n. Slob; coarse oaf.






Zie Gezunt!

(zie ge-ZOONT) phr. "Be healthy, be well." Used as a farewell. Also spelled zay gezunt.






Zog mir a shtikl Torah


(zog mir a shtik-el To-rah) n. Tell me a little Torah: an invitation to share your insight into a passage of Torah. Give a devar torah.






Zol zein a zeh!

(zol ZEIN ah zay) Phr. "So let it be that way" - expression of total resignation.






Zol zein mit Mazel

(zol ZEIN meet MAH-zel) Phr. "Good luck"; may your way be happy.






Zorg zich nit!

(zorg ZIKH nit) phr. Don't worry about it!






Zudik

(ZOO-dik) n. Buttocks; tuches; rear-end (fell right on his ~).






Zug gornisht

(zoo GOR-nisht): phr. "Say nothing." Hush! "Shhhh, I think others might be listening."







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Hebrew for Christians
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