Oy Vey! You’ll hear those yiddish words coming out of my (and my boys’) mouth many times throughout the day. Oy Vey is one of the most favorite Yiddish exclamations of all, oy! It combines the Yiddish shout of dismay oy, with the German term meaning “woe,” weh. Used mainly to express annoyance, oy vey is the perfect expression for that moment when you realize you are running late for work, spill red wine on your white table cloth, notice that your dog pooped on the new carpeting, or simply can’t deal with another word from your mother-in-law.
The Yiddish language is a mixture of German and Hebrew. It’s pronounced with German inflection and written using Hebrew characters. This melting pot of a language has brought many well-loved words to English. Here are some words you may know, that stem from Yiddish…
Maven entered Yiddish via the Hebrew word mebhin, meaning “one who understands.” N is a maven when it comes to video games – he knows all of the tricks!
Chutzpah – meaning “audacity, nerve, gall, and courage bordering on arrogance.” First transliterated as khutspefrom the original Yiddish. That dog has a lot of chutzpah to poop on our new carpet.
Schmooze – this worldly word was introduced to English in the early 1900s from the Yiddish shmuesnmeaning “to chat.” I like to go out with my friends and schmooze.
Tchotchke is defined as an inexpensive souvenir, trinket, or ornament. You know, those little knick knacks that are all over your house…
Schmaltz – another world for chicken fat. In the kitchen, schmaltz refers to fat or grease most commonly from a chicken and often used in soups. In Yiddish schmaltz means “melted fat”. Ewwwwwwwww
Baleboste – a good homemaker, a woman who’s in charge of her home and will make sure you remember it. My aunt had called me this once in the past and I was flattered when I looked up the meaning!
Mentsh – mentshes are authentic people; kind and decent, always around to help when you need it.
Mishegas – means craziness. “You’re meshugener!” means you are crazy!! That dog was meshugener for pooping on the carpet. (Do you see a recurring theme here??? Sadie pooped on our new carpet. I can’t really blame her TOO much…fireworks scare her and last night was a doozy.)
Shlep – to carry something, although you really don’t want to. I shlepped around all of their toys.
Schlock – slovenly, cheap, unkempt. That guy is at a party in those cut off shorts and a tank top – what a schlock!
Shmutz – also spelled “shmuts”. Put simply – dirt! When the boys come in from playing outside, they usually have a lot of shmutz on their faces.
Tuches – tushy, rear end, bottom. I love pinching my son’s cute little tuches.
Yente – usually denoting a female, but I know some men like this as well…it means a busybody or gossip. There is always at least one yente in the neighborhood.
I love to even just say the words! Do you know any Yiddish words not mentioned above? If so, please post!!