Sunday, July 28, 2013

Yiddish Loanwords: Part 3

Over the past few days, we've been checking out some of our favorite Yiddish loanwords that have become part of the English language over the years. Today we've got our final group of terms to share with you. Be sure to check out Part 1 for more information about the Yiddish language, and Part 2 for some great "sh" words too!

Klutz - This term just sounds clumsy, which is apt since it means "clumsy person". It started out as Klotz in German, and eventually became klots in Yiddish before making its way into English. It literally translates as "block", hence the term being connected to "blockhead" as well. 

Mensch - If you're looking for a decent person, someone of strength and honor, then you're looking for a mensch. The word comes from the German Mensch, meaning "man" or "person", which eventually became mentsh in Yiddish.

Meshuga - Add this to the long list of synonyms for "crazy". It comes from the Hebrew meshugga, meaning "to go astray" or "wander", which evolved into the Yiddish term meshuge

Cardinal tchotchkes galore!
Tchotchke - Another great word meaning "trinket" or "knick-knack", it comes from the Yiddish tsatske. Its origins are likely found in a Slavic language such as Polish or Russian.

Tush - If you were a fan of the TV series Full House as a child in the early 1990s, you should definitely know this word and its other form, tushy. It's a shorter form of tokhes, a Yiddish term meaning "buttocks" that comes from the Hebrew word tahat, meaning "beneath". 

Verklempt - This word isn't heard too often in English, but it's a great term for when you're overwhelmed with emotion. It originated in German as verklemmt

Yenta - Finally, we have yenta, a great word to use in reference to a gossipy woman. It started out as a popular feminine name in Yiddish, and eventually became synonymous with busybodies. Interestingly, the word may have originated in Italian as the word gentile, which unsurprisingly means "gentle".

Did we leave out your favorite Yiddish term that's used in the English language? Let us know in the comments below, and please include a definition.

Part 1

Part 2