Yiddish is such a rich and descriptive language. Many words and phrases have made it into the mass culture but others are not as well known.
Have fun browsing these expressions. Be a mensch and send us any others you may know of.
ALTER COCKER: An old person that complains a lot.
BISSEL, BISSELA: A little.
BOBBEMYSEH: Old wive's tales, nonsense.
BOYCHICK: An affectionate term for a young boy.
BUBBA: A grandmother.
BUBBALA: A term of endearment, darling.
BUPKES: Something worthless or absurd. I fold - I've got bupkes.
CHUTZPAH: Nerve; gall, as in a person who kills her parents and asks for mercy because she is an orphan.
DRECK: Shoddy or inferior.
FERBLUNJIT: Lost, mixed up.
FARPITZS: All dressed up.
FERSHLUGINA: Beaten up, messed up, no good.
FERSHTINKINER: A stinker, a louse.
FERTUMMELT: Befuddled, confused.
FRESS: To eat like an animal, i.e., quickly, noisily, and in great quantity
GAVALT: A cry of fear or a cry for help. Oy Gevalt is often used as expression meaning "oh how terrible."
GAY AVEK: Go away, get out of here.
GAY GA ZINTA HATE: Go in good health. Often said in parting but can be spoken with irony to mean, "go do your own thing."
GONIF: A thief, a tricky clever person, a shady character.
GOY: A derogatory term meaning gentile, goyim is the plural, and goyisher is the adjective.
GORNISHT: Nothing. Often used in a sarcastic manner, as in what did you get from her?
HAYMISH: Informal, friendly. A haimisher mensch is someone you feel comfortable with.
HOK A CHAINIK: To talk too much, to talk nonsense.
KIBITZ: To offer comments which are often unwanted during a game.
KISHKA: Intestines, belly. To hit someone in the "kishka" means to hit him in the stomach or guts.
KLUTZ: An awkward, uncoordinated person.
KVELL: To beam with pride and pleasure, Jewish parents are prone to kvell over their children's achievements.
KVETCH: To annoy or to be an annoying person, to complain.
LOCH IN KOP: Literally a hole in the head, refers to things one definitely does not need.
LUFTMENSH: A dreamer, someone whose head is in the clouds.
LUZZEM: Leave him be, let her or him alone.
MACH SHNEL: Hurry up.
MAVEN: An expert, a connoisseur.
MAZEL TOV: Good luck, usually said as a statement of support or congratulations.
MENSCH: A person of character. An individual of recognized worth because of noble values or actions.
MOMZER: An untrustworthy person.
NACH A MOOL: And so on.
NACHES: Joy. To "shep naches" means to derive pleasure. Jewish children are expected to provide their parent with naches in the form of achievement.
NAFKA: A woman of ill repute.
NEBBISH: An inadequate person, a loser.
NOODGE: To bother, to push, a person who bothers you.
NOSH: To snack.
NU: Has many meanings including, "so?; How are things?; how about it?; What can one do?; I dare you!"
NUDNIK: A pest, a persistent and annoying person.
OY VEY: "Oh, how terrible things are".
PISHER: A bed-wetter, a young inexperienced person, a person of no consequence.
PLOTZ: To burst, to explode, "I can't laugh anymore or I'll "plotz." To be aggravated beyond bearing.
SCHLOCK: A shoddy, cheaply made article, something that's been knocked around.
SCHMALTZ: Literally chicken fat. Usually refers to overly emotional and sentimental behavior.
SHAYGETS: A gentile boy and man, also means a clever lad or rascal.
SHIKSA: A gentile girl or woman.
SHLEMIEL: A dummy; someone who is taken advantage of, a born loser.
SHLEP: To carry or to move about.
SHLIMAZL: A chronically unlucky person, a born loser.
SHMENDRICK: A weak and thin pipsqueak. The opposite of mensch.
SHMEGEGGE: A petty person, an untalented person.
SHMEER: To spread as in to "shmeer" butter on bread. Can also mean to bribe and can refer to the "whole package", as in I'll accept the whole shmeer.
SHMOOZ: To hang out with, a friendly gossipy talk.
SHNOZ: A Nose.
SHTIK: A stick or thing. Often refers to an individual's unique way of presenting themselves, as in "She is doing her shtik."
SHVITZ: To sweat, also refers to a Turkish bath house. A shvitzer means a braggart, a showoff.
TCHOTCHKA: An inexpensive trinket, a toy. Can also mean a sexy but brainless girl. The affectionate diminutive is tchotchkala.
TSORISS: Suffering, woes.
TSUTCHEPPENISH: Something irritating that attaches itself like an obsession. She has a tsutcheppenish that is driving everyone crazy.
TUCHES: Backside, rear-end.
TUMMEL: Noise, commotion, disorder.
VER CLEMPT: All choked up.
YENTA: A busybody, usually refers to an older woman.
ZAFTIG: Juicy, plump. Can refer to food, ideas or people. A buxom woman.
ZIE GA ZINK: Wishing someone good health.
Thanks to Marty Fiebert, Jim Evans, Carolyn Javitch and others for their input.
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