Yiddish Words You Didn’t Know You Were Using Every Day

English is a vibrant mix of many languages and cultures, and Yiddish—a Germanic language traditionally spoken by Ashkenazi Jews—has left a notable mark on American English. How many of these words have made it into your vocabulary? Do you have a favorite?


Schlep. carrying garbage.
Image credit Oleg Kopyov via Shutterstock.

Schlep means to carry or drag something, often with difficulty. In Yiddish, it is used both as a verb and a noun. In American English, it retains this dual usage, often describing a burdensome journey or task.


Woman eating pizza at night.
Image credit Joshua Resnick via Shutterstock.

Nosh refers to eating a small snack or light meal. This word is commonly used in American English to describe casual eating between meals.


shaving head.
bold confident woman. Bald. Image credit Jacob Lund via Shutterstock.

Chutzpah denotes audacity or nerve. While it originally had a negative connotation in Yiddish, in American English, it often carries a more positive sense of boldness or confidence.


Klutz. Stumble. Trip.
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Klutz describes a clumsy or awkward person. This term is widely used in American English to refer to someone prone to accidents or mishaps.

Oy Vey

Confused frustrated.
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Oy vey is an exclamation expressing dismay, frustration, or grief. It is one of the most recognizable Yiddish expressions in American English.


networking. Talking. shake hands.
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Schmooze means to engage in casual, friendly conversation, often with the intent of networking or gaining favor. It is a common term in American social and professional settings.


Annoying person. Ignoring. Ignore.
Image credit Antonio Guillem via Shutterstock.

Schmuck is a derogatory term for a foolish or contemptible person. In American English, it is often used to describe someone who is inconsiderate or annoying.


women in exercise clothes.
Image credit Dmitry Lobanov via Shutterstock.

Tuchus (or tush) refers to the buttocks. This term is commonly used in American English, often in a playful or affectionate manner.


Giving speech.
Image credit Nicoleta Ionescu via Shutterstock.

Shpiel is a long, often rehearsed speech or sales pitch. In American English, it is used to describe any lengthy or persuasive talk.


confident woman.
Image credit Look At You Photography viaShutterstock.

Mensch means a person of integrity and honor. In American English, it is a high compliment, indicating someone who is genuinely good and reliable.


stop complaining.
Image credit Ariya J via Shutterstock.

Kvetch means to complain persistently. This term is widely used in American English to describe someone who is always grumbling or whining.


Image credit William Moss via Shutterstock.

Plotz means to collapse or faint from excitement or exhaustion. In American English, it is often used humorously to describe being overwhelmed.


Nana. Grandmother. Nana. older woman. Senior.
Image credit Lisa F. Young via Shutterstock.

Bubbe is an affectionate term for grandmother. It is commonly used in American English, especially within Jewish families.


Computer error. Glitch.
Image credit Kaspars Grinvalds via Shutterstock.

Glitch refers to a minor malfunction or error. This term is widely used in American English, especially in technology and electronics.


Young woman wearing glasses working at desk. Smart.
Image credit Mike Laptev via Shutterstock.

Maven means an expert or connoisseur. In American English, it is used to describe someone with deep knowledge in a particular field.


elephants nudging. touching.
Image credit Emma Geary via Shutterstock.

Nudge means to prod someone gently, often to get their attention or encourage them to do something. It is commonly used in American English in both literal and figurative senses.


Image credit Ascannio via Shutterstock.

Schlock refers to cheap or inferior goods. In American English, it is used to describe anything of low quality.


Souvenirs. trinkets.
Image credit BearFotos via Shutterstock.

Tchotchke means a small decorative item or trinket. This term is widely used in American English to describe knick-knacks or souvenirs.


plus sized women.
Image credit oneinchpunch via Shutterstock.

Zaftig describes a woman with a full, rounded figure. In American English, it is often used in a positive, affectionate manner.

The Takeaway

Baking challah. Mother and daughter.
Image credit Monkey Business Images via Shutterstock.

The integration of Yiddish words into American English is a testament to the rich cultural exchange that has shaped the language. These words not only add color and nuance to everyday speech but also reflect the history and experiences of Jewish immigrants in America. As these terms continue to be used and evolve, they serve as a reminder of the enduring influence of Yiddish on American culture.

Countdown 18 Of The World’s Most Overrated Foods

woman eating caviar.
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We all have foods we love and those we avoid. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes, but which foods are the most overrated? This question sparked a lively debate online, generating a variety of opinions. Some made perfect sense, while others were surprising and thought-provoking.

What’s the most overrated food in your opinion?

READ: Countdown 18 Of The World’s Most Overrated Foods

Science Tells Us What To Expect As We Age: Strategies For Thriving In Later Life

Beautiful happy older woman.
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that pertain to us all. Aging gradually alters people over decades, a long period shaped by individuals’ economic and social circumstances, their behaviors, their neighborhoods, and other factors. Also, while people experience common physiological issues in later life, they don’t follow a well-charted, developmentally predetermined path. Let’s take a look at what science has told us to expect. READ: Science Tells Us What To Expect As We Age: Strategies For Thriving In Later Life

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  • Dede Wilson

    Dédé Wilson is a journalist with over 17 cookbooks to her name and is the co-founder and managing partner of the digital media partnership Shift Works Partners LLC, currently publishing through two online media brands, FODMAP Everyday® and The Queen Zone.

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