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Difference between Schmo and Shmoo

Updated on August 9, 2015
I dunno. What's the difference?
I dunno. What's the difference? | Source

Difference between Schmo and Shmoo

What is a Schmo?

A ‘Schmo’ is a well-known fictional name given to someone (generally of the male persuasion) who is seen as a foolish or stupid person. In other words, a jerk. The word can also be spelled ‘schmoe’ or ‘shmo.’

Where did the word come from? The prefix, ‘shm’, was adapted from the Yiddish which meant to dismiss or diminish something.

Examples: Mother to child: “Rain, shmain, you have to go to school.”

Wife to husband: “Golf, shmolf, you need to mow the lawn.”

The Oxford English Dictionary supports another etymology: the prefix is a shortening of the Yiddish word, ‘schmuck’ which means a clumsy or stupid person; an oaf. Or the Yiddish word, ‘shmok’ which means penis.

Jack Daniel's whiskey
Jack Daniel's whiskey | Source

Ode to Joe the Schmo

Joe the Schmo walks into a bar.
He sits at the bar an hour or more.
He stares at his drink. He stares at the door.
He stares at the bar. He stares at the floor.

He does not take a sip,
Just heaves some great big sighs,
As tears begin to form
At the corners of his eyes.

One of the guys at the bar
Decides to play a joke.
He picks up Joe’s whiskey,
And drinks it down like Coke.

That’s when Joe starts to cry,
You would think he lost his mother.
The guy at the bar tells him,
“Don’t cry, I’ll buy you another!

“I saw that you weren’t drinking,
So I drank your drink in fun.
It is not worth any tears.
Bartender, another one.”

“It’s not just that,” says Joe.
“It’s all that happened today –
The worst day of my life.
Look, all my hair turned gray.

“First my alarm failed to work.
I did not awake until eight.
Then when I got to my job,
My boss fired me for being late.

“As I left the building,
What did I step in but poop?
My car was not in the lot,
Someone had stolen my coupe.

“On the back seat of my car,
I left my wallet and cellphone.
So I had to walk five miles,
In order to reach my home.

“My wife did not expect me,
I usually get home at night.
So where did I find her?
In bed! … Alone? … Not quite!

“With her was my best friend,
Seems he was her best friend, too.
I didn’t know about their affair,
I did not have a clue.

“I loved that woman,

I gave her my soul.

She stomped on my heart

And left a big hole.

“So I made up my mind to end it all
And I would have done so in a minute.
Then what do you do but drink my drink,
With all the rat poison in it!”

The Shmoo
The Shmoo | Source

What is a Shmoo?

Do not confuse the Schmo with the Shmoo.

The Shmoo is a lovable, fictional cartoon animal created by Al Capp in his comic strip, ‘Li’l Abner.’ It first appeared in August, 1948.

The Shmoo looks like a plump white bowling pin with round, stubby feet.

It has eyebrows and a few whiskers and a constant smile.

No arms, no nose, no ears.

Small hearts appear over its head when it expresses love.

Ode to the Shmoo

I found you so many years ago
When introduced by writer, Al Capp.
I was a fan of his 'Li'l Abner,'
And you, the Shmoo, became lagniappe.

Daisy Mae was the love interest
Of Li'l Abner, Capp's sturdy hero.
It seemed to be a one-way romance
Since Abner's interest was zero.

The comic strip described Dogpatch,
A fictional Utopian place.
The backwoods residents were folksy
With a pleasant hillbilly grace.

Mammy Yokum was the matriarch;
She constantly smoked a corncob pipe.
Handsome Li'l Abner loved his mother;
He was the strong, stalwart silent type.

Into their private world in Dogpatch,
Capp, the cartoonist, brought the Shmoo.
It was an animal like no other,
You would never find it in a zoo.

What did this sweet little creature look like?
Can you picture a plump white bowling pin?
Black eyebrows and very sparse whiskers,
But no arms, no nose, no ears and no chin.

Though a Shmoo may look a bit awkward,
It can move quickly on short, stubby legs.
They can multiply faster than rabbits,
And, on demand, produce free packaged eggs.

If you look at a Shmoo when you're hungry,
Then the Shmoo is more than eager to please.
It jumps onto a frying pan or grill,
So you can feast with the greatest of ease.

Hard to believe, I know, but it is so.
When broiled, the Shmoo will taste just like steak.
When fried, it will taste like fried chicken.
Is catfish your wish? the Shmoo you must bake.

Has your appetite begun to quicken?
Then one more fact I really should mention.
Shmoos are gentle and ideal with children.
As playmates they add another dimension.

They can be your nanny
When you can't find granny.

My love for the Shmoo is unconditional. It is too bad they are only fictional.

© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2015. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So."

Comments for Difference between Schmo and Shmoo

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    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, Larry, for finding my dissection and dissertation regarding Schmo and Shmoo fascinating. Your comments are always most welcome.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Fascinating dissection of terms.

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Happy to introduce you to the Shmoo, Alicia. Al Capp's cartoon strip, Lil Abner, was very popular in the States but I don't know if Canadian newspapers back in the 50s and 60s carried it as well.

      You are most welcome.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for introducing me to the Shmoo, drbj. Strangely enough, I've never heard of this creature before!

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, Mary, for appreciating my choice of subjects. That's what happens when you are older than soil and your mind wanders more than you do. I never mind showing my age, m'dear, since I am so grateful to be still here to show it. :)

      Delighted you chuckled and thanks for the Up and the sublime adjectives.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      3 years ago from New York

      You come up with the greatest subjects to right about. Who would ever think of Schmo and Schmoo? You're making us show our age remembering the Schmoo, but the chuckles were worth it. Great job.

      Voted up, funny, awesome, and interesting.

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      That is exactly what they did, bp, the Shmoos captured our hearts. They don't make cartoons like that any more. (:

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Rochelle. How fortunate you were to meet Al Capp in person - in my mind, he was a genius in the art of satirical cartoons. Remember General Bullmoose - 'what's good for the General is good for the country.' Reminds me of many of today's leaders.

      And what an honor that was - to sew that button for him. Thanks about the info re the Shmoo in comparison to the California Quail.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      3 years ago

      I do remember the trolls, but it is the Shmoo that captured my heart.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      3 years ago from California Gold Country

      Yes. I know the Shmoo.

      Al Capp said the Shmoo was modeled after the California Quail, a delightful little bird that prefers to run rather than fly. They run so fast and smooth that they appear to skate across the landscape. I heard it from AC himself when he spoke to a small group of journalism students.

      I also had the honor of sewing a button on the sleeve of his sports coat. It had come loose and my friend and I were the closest girls in the group-- I guess he figured that girls know how to sew buttons on. We had to run over to the Home Ec. department to find a needle and thread.

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      I knew you would be fond of the Shmoo, too, Ruby, as I was. Shmoes and schmucks - not so much. We all seem to know one or two or more. You are most welcome for the happy memories.

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Audrey. You know exactly the right thing to say. Thank you, m'dear. Happy you enjoyed this.

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, bp. I never had a Shmoo of my own but I looked forward to the Lil Abner comic strip whenever it appeared in our daily paper. I did have a Troll - remember them? But not a Shmoo. One day I am certain I will find one.

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Bill. Thanks for loving this, m'dear. To know that you were laughing all the way through the article is exactly the comment I hoped you would make. Honest!

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      How nice to meet you, Wendi. Happy I could bring back the Shmoo for you. Thanks for the visit and the 'funny.'

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Delighted I could rekindle your fond memories of the Shmoo, ArtDiva. I think there have been Schmos in almost everyone's life. Thanks for enjoying the fun, m'dear.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This was cute and fun to read. I hate to admit it but I've known a few schmucks. Hee..I remember the shmoo and one of my favorite comic strips was ' Li'l Abner. Thank's for the memories...

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      3 years ago from California

      You are so very clever--I so enjoyed this!

    • breakfastpop profile image


      3 years ago

      You just brought back many fond memories. When I was a kid, my mother took me to a local shoe store to get my feet measured and buy new shoes. After all was accomplished the owner presented me with a shmoo of my very own! I loved that creature.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are so clever and funny, my friend. I loved this, but then I love all your work. You have me laughing from the title all the way through the article.

    • lyoness913 profile image

      Summer LeBlanc 

      3 years ago from H-Town

      When I wrote on Epinions, I had a good friend who also wrote who named himself Shmoo. I hadn't known was a Shmoo was until then! Funny!


    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Why am I not surprised at this, and unbelievably, I remember the Shmoo, and known a lot of Schmo's. Another fun write.


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