List Monday – Top 10 Yiddish Words to Keep Alive

  1. Ish kabibble – Ish was actually an old time comedian/cornet player.  It was his stage name, based on a mock yiddish term, roughly meaning “no worries”.  It is probably derived from the yiddish nisht gefidlt,” which mean “it doesn’t matter to me”.  Anyway, I always thought it described a state of being, as in:  I don’t feel great, but not too bad.  Or something slightly off.
  2. Kaynahorah –  Here’s another interesting one.  I always took it to mean something of substance, like “look at the kaynahorah house (mansion)”.  But, it really is a word used to ward off the evil eye (spirits), especially when referring to one’s health.  Kind of like knock on wood.
  3. Bupkis –  refers to nothingness, but literally is translated as beans.  And beans are something, not nothing.  Who knew?
  4. Chazzerai – pig slop or garbage.
  5. Pupik – bellybutton.  Other important body parts:  punim, keppe, poulkie, toockiss, etc.
  6. Chutzpah – a lot of nerve
  7. Ibbergerblibbernis – leftovers. “What’s for dinner? Ibbergerblibbernis!” (If you have leftover blintzes, I guess that would be “ibbergeblibberneblintzes.”-stole that line).  Just learned this one!
  8. Kockamayme – mishuggenah
  9. Potchki – I always thought it meant to go to great measures, but it really means to tinker with or mess around.
  10. Schmiel/Shimazel –  A schmiel is someone who spills his soup.  A shimazel is someone who gets soup spilled on him (stole that line, too).
honorable mentions:  schmatta, nosh, shmeggegie, Tchatzkah

p.s.  Jilly was quite amused when I explained the ancient Yiddish curse:  zoll vaksen tsibillis en zein pupik (may onions grow in your bellybutton).
Now, gay shluffen.
This entry was posted in chutzpah, shpilkes and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to List Monday – Top 10 Yiddish Words to Keep Alive

  1. Anonymous says:

    Love your list!


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