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Yiddish, Yiddish: Words and Phrases You Need To Know.

Updated on December 16, 2012

So tell me if you've ever been in this situation. You're with a bunch of your Jewish friends enjoying a nice Friday night Shabbat meal. Between stuffing your faces with gefilte fish and Challah bread, you regale each other with witty banter and prayer. Suddenly, you notice something strange. While speaking mostly english, your friends are occasionally using words that you don't understand. What's going on?

It really depends on what type of Jewish community you are with, but for our purposes let's assume your friends are talking in Yiddish. Yiddish is a High German language whose origins can be traced back to at least the 10th century. It is a combination of Hebrew, German, Aramaic, Slavic languages and some romance languages and its primary users are those of the Ashkenazi Jewish community.

Through the work of Jewish comedians, writers, entertainers, etc, Yiddish has entered and spread through the American-English lexicon. Shows such as Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm have popularized certain Yiddish phrases beyond their Ashkenazi roots. Without even realizing it you are probably familiar with words such as cockamamie, putz or shmuck. So some of the following words/phrases should be somewhat familiar to you.

Below I have taken the time to outline some of the most famous and essential Yiddish words and phrases you may need to know.

EuroTalk Interactive - Talk Now! Learn Yiddish
EuroTalk Interactive - Talk Now! Learn Yiddish
I never expected to find software that intends to teach Yiddish and yet here it is. I will underestimate Amazon again.
Complete Idiot's Guide to Learning Yiddish (Complete Idiot's Guides (Lifestyle Paperback))
Complete Idiot's Guide to Learning Yiddish (Complete Idiot's Guides (Lifestyle Paperback))
Of course if you desire a softcover book to learn more about it is.

Key Words:

Boychik -- A Young Boy

Bris -- Circumcision

Broygis -- Not on speaking terms.

Bubbee -- Term of endearment for anyone you like.

Bubeleh -- Term of endearment for anyone you like regardless of age.

Bupkis -- Something totally worthless (Beans)

Chazzer -- Pig

Chutzpeh -- boldness, gall

Cockamamie -- crazy, ludracris

Drek -- dung, excrement

Gelt -- money

Glick -- luck, piece of luck

Goyim -- group of non-Jewish persons

Gut -- Good

Ipish -- bad odor, stink

Kvetch -- a pain in the neck, annoyance (n.), to complain (v.)

Meshugeneh -- crazed female

Meshugener -- crazed male

Nudnik -- obnoxious person

Petseleh -- little penis

Putz -- slang for penis. Jerk

Shikseh -- Non-Jewish girl

Shlecht -- bad

Shlemiel -- a clumsy person

Shlump -- untidy person, sloppy

Shmooz -- chat, talk

Shtik -- routine,

Shvantz -- tail, penis

Toches -- butt, buttocks,

Yenteh -- Gabby, Talkative woman

Zol zein -- Let it be, that's all.

Useful Phrases

Hello -- Sholem Aleychem

Goodbye -- Sholem, adye

How are you? -- vos hert zich bay aych? Vi geyt es?

Thank You -- a dank aych

Your Welcome -- nishto far vos

Excuse Me -- antshuldikt

What is you name? -- vi eyst ir? vi iz ayer nomen?

Not bad -- Nishkoosheh

Please take some time to see the Yiddish instructional video below. It is both educational and hilarious.

Afterwords, go out there and impress your friends.

Hilariously Awesome Yiddish Instructional Video


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