- 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.
- 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.
- Bupkis – refers to nothingness, but literally is translated as beans. And beans are something, not nothing. Who knew?
- Chazzerai – pig slop or garbage.
- Pupik – bellybutton. Other important body parts: punim, keppe, poulkie, toockiss, etc.
- Chutzpah – a lot of nerve
- 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!
- Kockamayme – mishuggenah
- Potchki – I always thought it meant to go to great measures, but it really means to tinker with or mess around.
- 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.