Saturday, July 27, 2013

Yiddish Loanwords: Part 2

Yesterday, we took a brief look at the Yiddish language and began our exploration of some of its diverse terms that have enriched English over the years. We're continuing our look today with seven Yiddish words that all begin with the 'sh' sound that is often heard in the language.

Schlong - If you're trying to avoid referring to a certain male appendage by name, you might choose to use this Yiddish word instead. It comes from the world shlang, which aptly translates literally as "snake".

Just a couple of smoks with a golden egg...
Schmuck - There's something so satisfying about using the word schmuck for someone who's a fool or jerk. However, the term is considered to be far more vulgar in Yiddish than it is in English, and was even considered to be a taboo term that should never be said in recent history. It's yet another term that literally means "penis", and comes from the Yiddish word shmok, which in turn may have come from the Old Polish term smok meaning "dragon".

Schmo - This is yet another term for a stupid or obnoxious person, which is likely a variation of the aforementioned schmuck.

Schvitz - In case you were wondering, a person who says they are schvitzing is sweating! It originated as the German word schwitzen.

Shtick - Another word for an "act" or "gimmick", shtick is usually used in reference to comedy acts. The Yiddish word shtik literally translates as "a piece", and in turn came from the Middle High German word stücke. 

Shtup - This word used to mean "annoy", but is now mainly used in English as a slang term meaning "to have sex with". It comes from the Yiddish word shtoop, which literally translates as "push" or "shove".

Spiel - Our final word today refers to a persuasive speech or sales pitch. It's certainly much easier on the tongue than either of those terms! It came from either the Yiddish word shpil or the German word Spiel, which both mean "play".

Tomorrow we'll conclude our look at Yiddish with our last group of loanwords.

Part 1

Part 3