Jewish Slang Words

You might have heard Jewish or Yiddish slang without knowing it. You might even have used it without knowing it. It's become a part of English culture; and, since the English language is always interested in extending its family of words, the charm of Jewish and Yiddish sayings and idioms is irresistible.

List of Slang Words

You can run an easy web search on almost any search engine for "Jewish or Yiddish slang words" and come up with millions of web sites that touch on the topic. From just a few of those sites, here is a short list for you to enjoy. Be a Mensch and learn them all!

  • Bubeleh - This is a term of endearment for all ages.

  • Cockamamie - This means ridiculous.

  • Chutzpah - This means high energy or brash.

  • Shmendrik - This means that the person is a jerk, but MUCH bigger than a normal jerk. He is the master of all jerks.

  • Kolboynick - This means a know-it-all.

  • Schmoe - This means a stupid or naive person.

  • Tsuris - This refers to troubles, troubles that are so big that you beat your head in trying to pronounce this word to tell someone about them.

  • Drek - This means a piece of dirt or a worthless object.

  • Glitch - This means a minor malfunction.

  • Schlep - This means to drag something heavy or to get a reluctant person to come along.

  • Yutzi - This refers to something or someone that is stupid.

  • Yiddishe Kup - This phrase literally stands for "Jewish head." Similar to that of butt head or get your Jewish head out of your Jewish backside.

  • Shiksa - This is a non-Jewish (Gentile) girl or woman.

  • Shagetz - This is a non-Jewish (Gentile) male.

  • Mensch - A good or important person.

  • Meschugena - This is a crazy, insane woman.

  • Meschugener - This is a crazy, insane man.

  • Klip - This stands for a gabby woman.

Brief History of Jewish and Yiddish Slang

The usage of Hebrew or Yiddish as an everyday speaking language did not used to be as prevalent as it has come to be today. Most of the Jewish people were fluent in other languages and then took on the language of their religion afterwards.

Yiddish started in the streets. Eastern European Jews spoke with one another in ways that incorporated the words and languages of their surroundings. It became a creole of numerous eastern European languages and Hebrew. The word Yiddish is an English transliteration of "juedisch," which means Jewish in German. Yiddish is almost all transliteration; usually written with Hebrew script, it is entirely phonetic and boasts an extensive word bank whose hazy etymologies perplex, impress, and generally enthrall scholars.

In the Yiddish language, there are hundreds of Jewish slang words. The advent of Jewish slang words has only become a recent occurrence because many of the old-school, devout Jews believe that it is a sin to use slang mixed with the Hebrew language, the language of God. For this reason, most of the slang words used today are imported from other foreign languages. Most of the slang comes directly from the Israeli, Arabic and English languages.

Related Links

  • Yiddish Academy: Yiddish slang words, from the serious to the surreal and funny. In other words, all the Chachkes can be found here. Words, definitions and audio pronunciation are included.

  • The Yiddish Handbook: A list of 40 words that you should know. You might be surprised to learn how much Yiddish you already speak.

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