A BI GEZUNT: So long as you’re healthy. Expression means, “Don’t worry so much about a problem, whatever it is. You’ve still got your health.”
A BROKH TSU DAYN LEBN: Your life should be a disaster.
A KHALERYE: A plague on you.
A SHAYNEM DANK DIR IM PUPIK: Many thanks in your belly button. (Thanks for nothing)
A SHVARTS YOR: A miserable year (you should have...)
ALTER COCKER, ALTER KAKER: An old and complaining person; Old fart
ALIVAY: It should only happen.
ALTER COCKER: An old and complaining person; an old fart.
AY-YAY-YAY: A joyous, or at times sarcastic, exclamation.
BALABUSTA: The wife of an important person or a bossy woman.
BEI MIR BIST DU SHAYN: To me you’re beautiful.
BERRYER: Denotes a woman who has excellent homemaking skills. Considered a compliment in the pre-feminist era.
BISSEL, BISSELA: A little.
BOBBEMYSEH: Old wive’s tales, nonsense.
BOYCHICK: An affectionate term for a young boy.
BROCHE: A prayer.
BUBBA: A grandmother.
BUBBALA: A term of endearment, darling.
BUPKES: Something worthless or absurd.
CHAYA: An animal. “Vilda Chaya,” a wild animal, is a term used to describe unruly children.
CHAZEREI: Food that is awful, junk or garbage.
CHUTZPAH: Nerve; gall, as in a person who kills her parents and asks for mercy because she is an orphan.
DRECK: Can refer to the ugliness of objects or people.
ESS: Eat. (see ‘Fress’)
FARSHTINKENER: Rotten; awful person.
FAYGALA: A male homosexual (literally, ‘little bird’).
FERBLUNJIT: Lost, mixed up.
FERDRAYT: Dizzy, confused.
FARPITZS: All dressed up.
FERMISHT: All shook up, as in an acute disturbance.
FERSHLUGINA: Beaten up, messed up, no good.
FERSHTAY: Do you understand?
FERSHTINKINER: A stinker, a louse.
FERTUMMELT: Befuddled, confused.
FRESS: To eat like an animal, i.e., quickly, noisily, and in great quantity. (Compare with ‘ess’, to eat like a human being)
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, GEY GEZUNTERHEYT: Go in good health. Often said in parting but can be spoken with irony (“Go do your own thing. Yeah, go do whatever you like. Fine, don’t listen to me. See if I care anymore.”
GAY SHLAFEN: Go to sleep.
GONIF: A thief, a tricky clever person, a shady character.
GORNISHT HELFN: Beyond help.
GOY: A derogatory term meaning gentile, goyim is the plural, and goyisher is the adjective.
GREPSE: To belch.
GORNISHT, GUNISHT: Nothing. Often used in a sarcastic manner, as in, “What did you get from her? Gunisht.”
HAYMISH: Informal, friendly.
HAIMISHER MENSCH: Someone you feel comfortable with.
HOK A CHAINIK: To talk too much; to talk nonsense.
IKH HOB DIR IN DRERD: Go to hell.
KIBITZ: To offer comments which are often unwanted during a game, to tease or joke around. A kibitzer gives unasked for advice.
KINE-AHORA: A magical phrase to ward off the evil eye or to show one’s praises are genuine and not tainted by envy.
KISHKA: Intestines, belly. To hit someone in the “kishka” means to hit him in the stomach or guts.
KLUTZ: An awkward, uncoordinated person.
KOSHER: Refers to food that it prepared according to Jewish law. Generally, kosher means “legitimate”.
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.
MACHER: An ambitious person; a schemer with many plans.
MAVEN: An expert, a connoisseur.
MAZEL TOV: Good luck, usually said as a statement of support or congratulations.
MEESA MASHEENA: A horrible death. The phrase “a messa mashee af deer” means “a horrible death to you”, and is used as a curse. Some have suggested that Masheena is the origin for a very old and extremely derogatory term for a Jewish person: Jews of Sheeny.
MEESKAIT: A little ugly one; a person or thing.
MEGILLAH: Long, complicated and boring.
MENSCH: A person of character. An individual of recognized worth because of noble values or actions.
MESHUGGE, MESHUGGINA: Crazy, refers to a more chronic disturbance.
MISHEGOSS: Inappropriate, crazy, or bizarre actions or beliefs.
MISHPOCHA: Family, extended family.
MOMZER: An untrustworthy person.
MOYL: The man who circumcises baby boys at a briss.
NACH A MOOL: And so on.
SHEP NACHES: To derive pleasure. Jewish children are expected to provide their parent with naches in the form of achievement.
NARRISHKEIT: Foolishness, trivia.
NEBBISH: An inadequate person, a loser.
NOODGE: To bother, to push, a person who bothers you.
NOSH: To snack.
NOSHERYE: To snack on food.
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.
ONGEPOTCHKET: Messed up, slapped together without form, excessively and unesthetically decorated.
OY-YOY-YOY: An exclamation of sorrow and lamentation.
OY VEY: “Oh, how terrible things are”.
OH VEZ MEAR: “Oh, woe is me”.
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.
POTCHKA: To fool around; to be busy without a clear goal.
PUPIK: Belly button.
PUTZ: Most usually used as term of contempt for a fool, or an easy mark.
SAYKHEL: Common sense.
SCHLOCK: A shoddy, cheaply made article, something thats been knocked around.
SCHMALTZ: Literally chicken fat. Usually refers to overly emotional and sentimental behavior.
SCHMUCK: A strong putdown for a jerk, a detestable person.
SHADKHEN: a professional matchmaker.
SHANDA: A shame, a scandal. The expression, “A shanda fur die goy” means to do something embarrassing to Jews where non-Jews can observe it.
SHAYGETS: A gentile boy and man; also means a clever lad or rascal.
SHAYNER: Pretty, wholesomely attractive, as in shayner maidel (woman).
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. Can refer to a person, a “shlepper,” who is unkempt and has no ambition.
SHLIMAZL: A chronically unlucky person, a born loser. When a shlimazl sells an umbrella, the sun comes out.
SHMATTA: A rag, often used as a putdown for clothes of the unfashionably dressed.
SHMEER: To spread as in to “shmeer” butter on bread. Can also mean to bribe and can refer to the “whole package” (i.e. “I’ll accept the whole shmeer.”)
SHMEGEGGE: A petty person, an untalented person.
SHMENDRICK: A weak and thin pipsqueak. The opposite of mensch, a a physically small shlemiel.
SHMOOZ: To hang out with, a friendly gossipy talk.
SHNORRER: A begger, a moocher, a cheapskate, a chiseler.
SHNOZ: A nose. (Jimmy Durante was known as “the great shnoz”)
SHTETL: A Jewish ghetto village.
SHTIK: A stick or thing. Often refers to an individual’s unique way of presenting themselves. (i.e. “She is doing her shtik.”)
SHTUNK: A stinker, a nasty person or a scandalous mess.
SHVITZ: To sweat, also refers to a Turkish bath house.
SHVITZER: A braggart, a showoff.
SPIEL: To play, as in to play a game.
TCHOTCHKA: An inexpensive trinket, a toy. Can also mean a sexy but brainless girl.
TCHOTCHKALA: The affectionate diminutive of TCHOTCHKA.
TOKHIS OYFN TISH: Put up or shut up.
TSETUMMELT: Confused, bewildered.
TSIMMES: A side dish, a prolonged procedure, an involved and troubling business (i.e. “Don’t make a tsimmes out of it.”)
TSORISS: Suffering, woes.
TSUTCHEPPENISH: Something irritating that attaches itself like an obsession: “She has a tsutcheppenish that is driving everyone crazy.”
TUCHES: Backside, ass.
TUCHES LECKER: ass kisser, one who shamelessly curries favor with superiors.
TUMMEL: Noise, commotion, disorder.
UNGABLUZUM: To look as if one is going to cry.
VER CLEMPT: All choked up.
VER DERHARGET: Get killed. (Drop dead)
VUS MACHS DA: What’s happening? What’s up?
YADDA YADDA: Using filler words (verbal replacement for “etc., etc.”)
YENTA: A busybody, usually refers to an older woman.
ZAFTIG: Juicy, plump, stacked. Can refer to food, ideas or people. A buxom woman.
ZIE GA ZINK: Wishing someone good health.
ZETZ: A strong blow or punch.
ZEYDE: Grandfather, or old man.
ZHLUB: An insensitive, ill-mannered person, a clumsy individual.
ZOLST LIGEN IN DRERD: You should lie in the earth! (Drop dead)
Barking Up The Wrong Tree
Holding His Own Portraits
Kung Fu Driver
Can Never Have Too Many Tools
Roller Blade Heels
Pedal Car Mechanic
Ice Hockey Meltdown
Patience and Wisdom