Jewish Words And Phrases
Words are listed alphabetically. I am working on this site to add words daily, so check back!
This is a curse, a plague. Like "Damn it!" but more so. A broch is a way of expressing disgust, misery, disaster. If a guy wants to tell you he's miserable, he's nauseated, he's overwhelmed, he's disgusted, he's at his wit's end, he's heard the end of it, he wants to give up, he wants to run away, he wants to get out of town, he wants to destroy himself, it's all over, there's no end in sight, there's no way to get out of it, all of this can be said in one phrase, “Oy, a broch.”
A gentile would have to find five thousand ways of letting you know how he's feeling. A Jew just says “Oy, a broch,” and you know that this guy can't take anymore and you'd better get out of his way. Because the next thing is murder.
And a broch can range from the tailor fixing your pants too short to the death of a relative. It's an all-purpose word.
A Gezunt Dir in Pupik:
pronounced, ah Geh-SOONT dear en POOHP-ik
This is a blessing, and means good health to your belly button, but the general meaning is that your whole system should stay healthy and be in good shape. It's a colorful, preposterous way of making a profound point: Because your life started with your belly button, it's the center of your entire being.
To wish health to your belly button has a lot of meaning because Jews are always concerned about good health. When a Jew says “goodbye,” he never just says “goodbye,” but also wishes gezunt, which is health, and that you should be strong and able to plant trees, to put up buildings, to cross streets faster than anybody, to sit longer, to climb higher, and to dance better.
You can't walk away from a Jew you've met on the street without listening to blessings upon blessings. Even if you've visited someone in his home for ten seconds, the blessings take an hour and a half. They will follow you out the door blessing you: “And God should give you more pillows, more quilts, more salt shakers, more sodium, more carbohydrates. God should give you more chairs, more tables, you should have more furniture to sit on, more food to eat, more forks to eat with, more feet to walk on, more places to go, more people to see…..”
Jews have to protect each other from common problems as well as things nobody ever even heard of; “You shouldn't know from unhappiness, you shouldn't know from sadness. And even if you're hurt you shouldn't feel pain. And if you feel the pain it should go away in a second. If somebody calls you names, you shouldn't hear. You shouldn't know from strong winds, from loud voices, from noisy rooms, from hysterical wives, from fat cockroaches, from slow trains, from jumpy elevators. You shouldn't know from anybody grabbing you, from anybody robbing you, from anybody chasing you, from anybody cursing you, from people screaming at you, from people looking at you,
“You should never know from a bad toenail, from a bad tooth, from an earache, from a dirty finger, from a transplanted kidney, from tight shoes.
“You should only know from the best butcher, the best plumber, the best dentist, the best foot doctor. In case you walk to the store you should never know from swollen feet. In case you have to buy something you should never have trouble with your credit card. You should never know from a bad heart, and only your enemies should suffer from heartburn. You should never know from congestion. You should never suffer from irritation or constipation. You should never leave the house without Maalox.
“You should always have love in your heart, goodness in your soul, and you should only know from kindness, from love, from sex appeal.
“You should always have the best pound cake, you should never have static on you television set. The goodness of life should always be in your house. You rich relatives should always know who you are, and your poor relatives should never be able to find you.”
All of this comes when you belly button is healthy. When an Italian says goodbye, he wished you only one thing --- a long life. It's not like a Jew who is worried about your total well-being. An Italian is concerned that you're going to die not from bad health but from somebody killing you. That's why he always ask, “Is anybody bothering you?' He's going to protect you. You're not in jeopardy of just losing your health, you might also lose your life, or at least get your legs broken. So the Italian is always offering protection, and the protection is usually from himself because he hates it if somebody else would break your legs.
Jews don't offer you protection from people, they offer you protection from God. Jews deal only with God; that's how Jews are different from other people. Jews convince themselves that if you can get God on your side, then you have nothing to worry about. They say, “God should protect you. God should give you health and happiness. May God be with you.” They always start with God. “May God watch over you. May God help you climb the stairs. May God let you get proper rest.” They're always trying to protect you from the wrath of God, not protecting you from the wrath of another human being.
Jews are always telling you in their blessing how long to live. Every Jew tells you you should live to be 120. But there's always a Jew who says you can live to 150. Some other Jew tops that. He says, “You should live forever. You should never die. Everybody else should drop dead except you.” It's always $3,000 worth of blessings for every two-cents worth of conversation.
I never saw a gentile wish you good health and strength and happiness for three hours. Gentiles say, “I'll see you.” Or, “So long.” Or, “Best of luck to you.” “Same to you.” The best of luck is the most a gentile ever offers you. As for children and grandchildren, gentiles just wish each other luck. When a gentile says “Good luck,” he thinks he includes everything and the case is closed. But a Jew is always wishing luck on the children and grandchildren and the great-grandchildren. They don't care of they have these children or not. They're wishing you luck just in case you have them, in case you know anybody else who has them...
A Gezunta Moid:
pronounced, ah Geh-SOON-the moyd
It literally means “a healthy girl,” but there is a connotation beyond that. It's a girl who looks so healthy she is capable of unbelievable things. It's said when you don't want to talk too dirty but you're still thinking about sex. A gezunta moid means, what she could do to you requires a lot of health to do.
It can also mean you'll lose your health of you get involved with her. She could kill twelve Jews like you in a second. Well-stacked is what you really mean when you say A gezunta moid.
This is a curse, like a broch, but not as severe. You run for a full block and just miss a bus, and you slap your head, Oy, a klug. Klug means “woe”. Its an exaggerated way of saying that you're overwhelmed by the problem. So it always has a humorous side to it because a Jew always knows that no matter how bad things get, hes going to come back and he's going to fight it his way. There's going to be another bus coming along, or he'll go to another street.
Even if your umbrella doesn't open in the rain, you know it's not the most serious thing in the world, but you have to get something off your chest, and so you say Oy, a klug! That takes in the weather, the umbrella, the guy who made the umbrella and your mother-in-law who bought you the umbrella.
A Makeh Unter Yenems Orem Iz Nit Shver Tsu Trogen:
pronounced, ah-MAKEH UN-ter YENEMS iz nit shver tsu TRO-gen
It literally means that another person's problems are not difficult for you to endure. Every time someone says that he has a vicious toothache, the other person always says, “Don't worry, it'll go away.” It's amazing how rational the other person is about your misery.
A man says to someone, “I can't walk.”
His friend always says, “What's the matter?”
“My foot hurts.”
“So you'll walk a little less, it's not so terrible. Sitting is good for you.”
A man says he's passing away tomorrow. His friend tells him, “So what? In today's world, is life such a bargain? I'm still living and I've got nothing but misery. You're dying, but look how many problems you're saving. At least with what's going on in the world today, you should thank God that you're going out”
Every time you're miserable, the other guy becomes a great philosopher. All of a sudden, the most brilliant philosophical statement in the world is expressed. It comes from a combination of happiness that it didn't happen to him and the fact that he really can't feel your pain. And so the great mind convinces himself that it's really not that big a problem.
A Shtuken Nisht in Harts:
pronounced, ah SHTU-ken nisht in HEARTS
It means “a stab in the heart” and it hurts like hell. It is anything that is a painful experience, a shocking, miserable memory. It happens every time a Jew passes a building that he could have bought twelve years ago for $1 million and learns that its now worth $60 million. He just took a $59 million loss. That's a shtuken nisht in harts.
A Vue Shtet Geschreiber:
pronounced, ah voo shtet geh-SHRIBE-er
It means, “Where is it written? Who says it's so?” Any time someone makes a statement, and if you want to call him a liar without calling him a liar, you say, “Where does it say that? Where's the evidence for this story? Who says it has to be this way - why can't it be the other way?”
Most people can never admit that they're not sure. They give you a statement as something definite, as though it were carved in the Ten Commandments. A father supporting his children. The son is thirty-eight years old and he's asking the father for a weekly allowance. The father says, “Where is it written that I have to support you until your thirty-eight years old? I could see it when you were nine, but thirty-eight?”
Who says you have to wear a shirt before you put on a tie?
People who question society, who question whatever is traditional, always ask the question, Where is it written? The most brilliant people in the world are always the ones who ask that question. They are the real doubters of tradition, who evaluate society on the most basic terms. They create new directions and new paths for society to go in. They think of ways to exist that no one ever thought of before. Think about the great inventors:
Just because everybody uses smoke signals, I can't use a telephone? Just because everybody rides a horse, I can't invent a car? Just because a bird flies, it means I cant? Where is it written?
Ahf Mir Gezogt:
pronounced, ahf Meer geh-ZOKHT
It translates roughly as "I wish I had that” or “It should only happen to me.” If a woman's husband just bought her a gorgeous ring, its “Ahf mir gezogt.” Or if someone else is making a better living than you or just bought a bigger car. It's a little less than total envy, total resentment, total hatred and jealousy. It's a little less than saying a person is ongeshtupt, or swollen with riches.
Ahf mir gezogt usually goes with a deep breath of exasperation and misery because its not yours. “So how come I never got it? What did I do that I shouldn't deserve it?” Its as if to say, “What a perverted sense of justice. No wonder Jews are suffering. No wonder a Jew can't get a decent break in this world. The world is upside down.
Its also anybody who is making money and doesn't have to report it to the IRS, even if its only a profit of thirty cents. Even a guy shining shoes. A man says to his friend, “You know something? It's a pathetic thing what a guy has to do to make a living.” And the friend says, “But it's a cash business.” And the first man shrugs his shoulders and says, “Ahf mir gezogt.”
Ahfen Ganef Brent Dos Hittel:
pronounced, off-en gon-iff brehnt dohs HIT-tel
The literal translation is, “On the head of a thief burns his hat.” It means that the person always feels guilty for something that he did or was thinking about doing. It's another way of saying that his head is aching from guilt. It's another way of saying that his head is aching from guilt, burning from sin, that his conscience is troubles.
He's a thief or a louse, and he knows he's been caught or might soon be caught or should be caught.
Like the guy who is hiding from the cops. No matter where he sits, he thinks the guy next to him is about to arrest him. When the waiter comes over to give him a cup of coffee, he thinks its really the FBI man in disguise. He's never comfortable no matter where he goes.
Ahf Tsu Loches:
It literally means, “As fate would have it.” It's as if by some grand design, something is beyond your control. Just my luck. I loan him all my money and , ahf tsu loches, he opens a store across the street from me. He wipes me out with my own money.
pronounced, OLL-ter KOCK-er
An alter kocker is a man who can no longer do something that he once could. He's an old guy, over the hill, past his prime.
In literal terms, an alter kocker is from German and means “old defecator.” It doesn't sound very nice in translation, but it's a common expression, and sounds gentler and more humorous in Yiddish conversation. Its sense is usually of someone who is inept at whatever he is trying to do. It often has to do with forgetfulness. As soon as somebody says hello to a man but he can't remember his name, the other guy says, “You alter kocker.” The other guy can't admit to himself that he's not too well liked, or not worth remembering. So he blames you.
Another thing an alter kocker is famous for is playing golf. There are certain activities that are recognizable for old people that only an alter kocker gets involved in and golf is one. A man wants to go for a walk, but he doesn't want to feel like he's just going for a plain walk, so he takes a stick with him. He doesn't have to do anything, but now he convinces himself that he's an athlete. He can feel young. If he takes a walk, he holds a stick and he swings it. He doesn't remember is there was a ball there or not. It's not that important. He misses the ball by three feet but he's still happy.
Originally, this was someone who drove a wagon. Now he's a truck driver or a cab driver. It was always a derisive term and it applied to a guy who was considered to have gotten nowhere in life. Unfortunately, a truck driver was often one who was thought to be crude, who had no class, had no manners, was not gracious, or delicate, not sophisticated, was vulgar. But it's a bad rap on truck drivers, and I think it's a bad taste to give him the connotation.
If you call a guy a balagoleh, you're really saying he's the equivalent of a person at the lowest economic level. But a truck driver today is not at the lowest economic level anymore. He's a respectable citizen with a relatively good union job who makes as much money today as most of the people in professional jobs. But there is still the stigma of being a truck driver and a cab driver.
If you're in the Catskills and meet the average New York cab driver who is there on vacation and ask him what he does for a living, he'll never admit he's a cab driver. He'll tell you, “I'm in the transportation business” or “I'm in communications.” He'll find some kind of profession that sounds high-class without being a total liar. It's a little too self-conscious to say, “I'm a bank president.” That has nothing to do with his real job. But if he says he's in the transportation business, or even communications, he's verging on the truth to a degree.
Taxi drivers now make a comfortable living, but the guy driving he taxi is still embarrassed by his job. That's why, whenever you get into a cab, the driver always has an apologetic speech to make. But while others might be comfortable driving a taxi cab nowadays, a Jew still isn't.
You'll notice that a gentile who drives a cab is a cab driver, but not a Jew. The first thing every Jewish cab driver says is,
“You think I need this?
This is not my regular business. I just sold a luncheonette and moved from Philadelphia. I just gave up a business in Pittsburgh. I could open four more businesses tomorrow. You think I want to bother with this? I only do this to help out my brother-in-law.”
Jewish cab drivers are always helping out somebody. If you ask, “Who are you helping out? They'll say, “I don't remember who the guy was who owned the taxi. I wasn't busy that day so I started driving. You think I know why? I don't need this. I piss away money like this in ten minutes; it means nothing to me. You think I want a tip? You think I care about it? Who wants it? A lousy dollar to a guy like me? A man in my position, do you think I need a dollar? All right, I'll take it. Do you think after all, I want to hurt your feelings?”
It means “fate” and a very typical word for Jewish people because they like to think things are all bashert, or a product solely of fate. When people don't have an answer to why something happened, they say its bashert. They romanticize, for example, the whole idea of a guy and a girl meeting. It was fate that put them together. Gentiles also like to think that relationships come from fate, but they don't put quite as much stock in it as Jews do. To find the right mate, gentiles think you have to travel around a lot, meet people, join three hundred singles groups, vacation with Club Med, attend a matching session, go to another group, then to a singles bar. Finally, you meet someone. And that is fate.
Gentiles don't talk so much about fate because they work too hard to find the right person. They want to attribute it to their intelligence. They know so much about psychology that they understand how to evaluate a person.
In the old days in Europe, Jews didn't go anyplace. You met a person because there wasn't anyone else to meet. Jews lived in a very small town, called a shtetl. Someone put you together with someone and it was all artificially arranged. The person who did this was called a schatchen, or matchmaker. And the families had to convince themselves that these two people really belonged together.
There was no reason for this couple to be together. They didn't pick each other out. There was no other way to justify the stupidity of these two people having nothing in common having to live the rest of their lives together, so people told themselves that it was God's way. “It's bashert.” When there's no freedom of choice, you have to blame it on God.
Nowadays, if your daughter marries a guy who you can't stand, in order to make yourself comfortable with it you say it's bashert. They have to bring God into it to find an excuse for accepting it. You don't want to say she's an idiot, or the marriage stinks or the thing won't last or it's the dumbest thing you ever saw. You try to prevent it until the wedding day, and every inch of the way you're complaining and fighting and screaming and threatening to kill, plunder, and murder. But she marries him anyway, and you say, it's bashert, it was the will of God. The will of God means you fought like hell and you lost.
It means “cheap” or “inexpensive.” It's usually regarding something that you got for a good price. It's used in the saying, Billik vi borsht!,, which means, “cheap as beet soup.” The greatest fear a Jew has is that he should pay a regular price for anything. He doesn't know what he paid for it, but it has to be a bargain. And if it's a bargain, he got it billik.
A Jew says, “I paid $300 for a dress.” Her friend says, “$300 for a dress? You spent a fortune!” The first Jew says, “But it sold for $500.” The friend says, “Oh, what a deal!” Now she's thrilled. Fabulous. You saved $200. Thank God. Billik vi borsht. They don't care how much you spend, it's how much you saved.
pronounced, BOH-bah MY-seh
It literally means “grandmother's tale,” but can also be translated as “old wives tale.” Jews use it to express to someone that they're full of baloney. It's the bluntest way a Jew has of calling someone a liar, a phony, a contemptuous lout.
When Gary Hart got caught on the boat with Donna Rice, he should have said, “She wasn't really a girl, she only looked like a girl. She was looking for a job at four o'clock in the morning. She was in the wrong building. She thought she was in the unemployment office. She didn't know I was a guy. She thought I was a couch, a horse, a chair. She must have thought I was a couch because she wanted to lie down to me. She was tired. She was up late. She traveled a long distance.” Now those are bobbeh meissehs.
pronounced like it looks, and tastes
Chicken soup is one of the hallmarks of being Jewish. It has a great reputation as the all-purpose cleanser, the all-purpose medicine, the all-purpose waker-upper, the all purpose expression of hospitality, of friendship, of neighborliness. Chicken soup, for Jews, is what a pizza, a hot-dog, and an apple pie all together are for gentiles.
Chicken soup is the expression of everything a Jew represents. It's a great expression of love, and since it is served hot also conveys warmth. The fact that it's a picker-upper made it a medicine. It was also very popular from early on because it was a great way to save money on dinner. It's heavy and fattening and poor Jews always ate chicken soup. They always had potatoes on the side and chicken soup in the plate. In the broth you add a matzo ball, which is rolled up dough, or you add a kreplach, rolled dough with chopped meat inside, or you'd have rice, or kasha, which is essentially buckwheat. So between the potatoes and the chicken soup, the poverty-stricken Jew on the Lower East Side in New York for thirty years was able to fill himself up for twenty cents.
Chicken soup is a great pasta dish, even though nobody calls it that.
The gentiles of America have gotten into pasta as the great new hip fetish food. But what is a pasta dish, anyway? It's “lokshen,” which is the Yiddish word for noodles.
Many Jews felt they left chicken soup and noodles behind when they moved to the suburbs. They all decided that chicken soup was too Jewish.
It wasn't hip enough, it wasn't gentile enough, and didn't have enough nutritional value. It also wasn't sexy enough. So they switched from chicken soup to gazpacho. From gazpacho to French onion soup, and from French onion soup to minestrone soup. From that they went to quiche, and quiche became a hot item that symbolized success. Then they moved up to Japanese fish was never cooked and called it sushi. And after all these foods, they settled on pasta.
Now when pasta became the biggest hit in hip America, Jews didn't even know it but they were back to chicken soup. Pasta is nothing but chicken soup noodle soup when you leave out the soup and the chicken. If you want to eat the best pasta and the hippest pasta and the smartest pasta today, you're back to eating chicken soup. One of the most popular pastas today is angel hair pasta. If an old Jew eats it, it's called chicken soup. If a young Jew eats it, he feels hip by calling it angel hair pasta.
Pretty soon they'll start adding water back to it to make it taste better. People do that all the time. They do exactly the same thing that used to be done, but they give it new titles and they feel like a swinger because it's a new generation. Years ago, a cafeteria was a cafeteria.
Now, all over America people are eating in cafeterias, but they're calling them salad bars.
A cafeteria just sounded too Jewish. It sounded like a place refugees ate in, and it sounded like a way to save money on a waiter. It also made you feel like you weren't getting anywhere in life, so they came up with a name that makes it sound more continental, and if you feel continental, then you could eat in a cafeteria. And order angel hair pasta with a matzo ball.
A chochem, or the female chochema, is a possessor of wisdom, a brilliant person. It's the ultimate tribute to a scholar. But it can also be said of a shrewd man because he's so clever, or inventive. It is said with the highest respect, like “A chochem of the Talmud.”
Yet it can be used in a negative way, to make fun of somebody. You'd say, “Noch a chochem”; that is, “Another scholar!” Or “Uch, this is a nuclear scientist! A brain surgeon he'll never be. A genius he's not.”
You reverse the meaning so that you call someone a chochem when you don't want to call him a jerk. This is a word where you have to get the melody down more than the word itself. If the word goes up on the first syllable, you're serious about calling someone a wise person. If it goes up at the end of the word, you mean to say that this supposedly brilliant scholar is really a total idiot.
A Jewish business owner sends his son to college. He learns computer technology, metaphysics, he learns marketing, research analysis, he studies demographics, psychology, he studies the population centers of America, and brought it all down to subdivisions of levels of proprietorship on the basis of customer analysis. And as soon as he takes over the business-boom!-it loses $300 million.
The father never went to school in his life, came here as a refugee who escaped from a concentration camp, he's walking around with tattoos on his arm and somehow, no matter how much he makes, no matter how he built this little shop into a big business, the son only knows one thing. His father doesn't know what he's doing. The son used to say, “He's making $300 million, but if I took over the business, it would be worth $500 billion. You call this a business? You know how much money Bill Gates made this year?”
Then the father hands over the business to him and says, “Go ahead.” The son asks, “Now?” He takes over the business and all of a sudden he's making $1.80. That's when the father says, “Oy, this is a chochem.”
A chozzer literally means, “a pig” and is used to describe a piggish person. It's a guy who wants everything whether it belongs to him or not, and wants one hundred times more than he has a right to expect. Like you give someone a shirt as a gift. Instead of him accepting the shirt with a thank you, the chozzer says, “What, only one shirt? Can't I have at least three more?” When he exchanges the shirt for one that's twice as expensive, he expects you to pay for that, too.
A normal person sits in a restaurant and takes a bite of chicken and if it doesn't taste good, he calls the owner over, but not the chozzer. He waits to finish it first then wants his money back. The owner says, “If the chicken was no good, how come it's not on your plate? How did the chicken disappear? Was the sanitation department here to pick it up on a truck? No, you ate it!” The chozzer says, “Who ate it? I didn't eat the chicken. Maybe the guy next to me ate it. This isn't the greatest neighborhood. People will steal anything. How should I know where the chicken went? I'm not a detective. All I know is I'm still hungry. I want something to eat.”
A chozzer has endless chuzpah. There's no such thing as a chozzer without chutzpah, though you can have chutzpah and not be a chozzer.
A companion saying is, A chozzer bleibt a chozzer (bleibt is pronounced, bligh-bt.)
It means that a pig always remains a pig no matter what. If a guy does something wrong to you and then does it a second time, this symbolizes the fact that he can't learn, he can't improve, and he won't change. A leopard doesn't change its spots. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. The man was a pig, he is a pig, and he'll die a pig. This man is an unchangeable commodity. He stinks from the bottom up, and always will.
Someone with chutzpah is brazen, brash, and has the gall to tell you off even when you did nothing to him. He's abusing you and making demands on you that he has no right to expect. A guy with chutzpah takes out a gun and shoots you in the heart and then blames you for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If not for you, he wouldn't be charged with murder. You had the gall to drop dead after he shot you. If you hadn't done that to him, he'd be a man without problems. Colossal nerve. Theodore Bickel—who murdered his parents, then pled for mercy in court because he was an orphan— chutzpah.
Di Emmeseh Schoireh:
pronounced, deh EM-messeh SKOY-reh
This means “the ultimate truth, the real thing, the best you can find.” It it usually accompanied by a shortness of breath. When a Jew looks at a girl who is stunning, he says, “Ooh, this is the emmeseh!” It's when you're out of control because something is so great. Emmeseh means the ultimate, but it doesn't have to be sex. It could be a car, a pair of shoes, a pastrami sandwich. Whatever is the best.
Whenever you get something for wholesale, it becomes di emmeseh shoireh. If you got it at cost, it becomes di richtik shoireh. That's one step better than di emmeseh shoireh. This is the real real McCoy, and there's never been another McCoy like it.
pronounced, DRAY-kop, or DRAY-kawp
A draykop is someone who talks about nothing and gives you a headache. It's everybody's sister-in-law or brother-in-law. It's a scatterbrain, but more than that, it's a chatterer. Someone whose conversation is pointless and hopeless and endless. Someone who keeps talking even thought the conversation is going nowhere because the greatest fear in their life is to keep quiet. They can't keep quiet. Draykops are people with the least to say and take the longest to say it.
The literal meaning of a draykop is “turn-head” someone whose head is turned from talking so much, or who turns your head around from listening to them. They can't say hello without trying to impress you about where they're going, what they're doing, and they'll include fifty bobbeh meissahs in two minutes.
You say hello to a draykop and he tells you he's a producer and he's making three pictures this week. He asks, “Did you see my last four movies?” “No,” you tell him, “I never say them.” He says, “I don't know how you missed them.” You missed them because he never made a movie in his life.
A bobbeh meissah will tell you he bought the Empire State Building. A draykop thinks he actually did. Not only that, but a draykop actually brings his furniture into the lobby because he thinks it belongs there.
A draykop always drops names and he convinces himself he actually met these people. He'll tell you he went fishing with George Bush on Thursday.
He says, “I don't like how the disarmament conference is going. I spoke to him about it last night, but I didn't get anywhere with him.”
“The television was on and it was playing too loud. But I'm going back.”
“He's dying to see me again.”
“Did you talk about anything else?”
“The missile crisis.”
“But there hasn't been any missile crisis.”
“No wonder we didn't settle it.” Oh boy. Am I glad you told me. That's why nothing worked out.”
A draykop likes to go into details of conversations he never had, about things that never happened, and he has solutions to problems he never heard about. And before you know it, he's involved with every problem in the world. He solved three-quarters of them. The rest he's working on, and yet he never left his house. He's still trying to save up enough money to make a phone call.
He's also a financial genius; he's figured out a way to save the world. The first thing you do, he says, is eliminate trees. Or curbs. Or shoelaces. He always has fantastic fantasies that will straighten out everything. And nothing has to make sense. It only has to make sense in his mind.
He keeps talking and his head keeps swelling and he doesn't care if you're listening or not. By the time he's finished, he feels so important he doesn't need you altogether. He's already impressed with himself and he leaves.
Du Zol Nicht Vissen Frum Tsores:
pronounced, doo zohl nikht viss-en froom TZOHR-ehs
It means, “You should never know from human misery, from sorrow, or from agony.” Tsores is the equivalent of troubles. It's an all-inclusive word that deals with problems or tragedies or negative emotions of any kind. And naturally the reverse of it is, you should only know from happiness. To a Jewish mother, they don't want you to know from tsores. Only happiness. They are like watchdogs against troubles.
If a Jewish mother sees you sitting and thinking, she gets worried. Every Jewish mother is the same. They interrupt you right away because it looks dangerous. They say, “What are you thinking about?” You're thinking too hard.” You say, “I'm just trying to figure something out.”
“What are you thinking? Be happy, be comfortable, why do you have to take life so seriously?”
“I'm not taking it seriously. I happen to have a problem. I have to solve it.”
“Solve problems! What do you have to worry about problems? You have everything a person could want in life. You're healthy, you're not living in the street, you have to worry about problems? Forget about the problem.”
“But the problem is, I have a house. I have to put it up.”
“Wha-a-t up? Up is not important. A house is a house. You never saw a house before?”
“But don't you have to figure out how to build it?”
“What build? There are builders that build. Why are you getting involved?”
My mother is like this. She never wants me to even think of something. Once I'm thinking, I'm too quiet. Quiet to them means a problem.
“What's bothering you?”
“Nothing's bothering me. I'm just quiet.”
“You're not just quiet. I can tell there's something on your mind. When you get quiet, you start to think, when you start to think, you get depressed. Where do you think ulcers come from? Forget about it.”
“But I've got nothing to forget about.”
“Then forget about nothing. Go out and enjoy yourself.”
Er Zol Vaksen Vi a Tsibeleh, Mit Dem Kop in Drerd!:
pronounced, ehr zohl VAHK-sen vee ah TSIB-el-eh, mitt dem KOHP in DRAYRD
“He should grow like an onion with his head in the ground” is the direct translation. What it means is, He should drop dead. Head first.
He shouldn't even take a chance that his feet should go first because then he might realize where he's going and get out in time. But if he goes head first, then he can't change his mind. He's already buried before he can think it over. He's wiped out before he knew what hit him. When you wish this, then you believe the guy doesn't deserve a conversation or the courtesy to yell for help- he can't yell for help because his head's in the ground already.
One who gets this fate wished upon him is the worst kind of person. He could have done anything. He could have evicted your mother from her apartment. He could have called your sister a whore. He could have loaned you nine dollars and not had the decency to stop hounding you about it, starting five minutes after he loaned it.
Any woman with a sister-in-law who has more money than she does will most definitely be a farbisseneh. A farbissener, or female farbisseneh, is an embittered person, someone who is sour about anything and everything.
A farbissener is always irritable. He's the guy who feels the world should send him checks for nothing. That he should not have to get up in the morning and go to work. There has never been a bus that has arrived on time for a farbissener. A farbissener is someone that feels you owe him something, but doesn't know what, and wants it right away. Even if he got it, he still wouldn't be happy. Because then he couldn't complain. If a farbissener can't complain, he might drop dead on the spot.
This literally means forgot. It is an attitude and you often hear it in a sarcastic phrase, like “With all your learning put together, you don't know half of what I forgot already.” Or “What I forgot is more than you already learned in your whole life.” This means that you are trying to sound like you have the wisdom of the ages but you're sounding pretentious and you're basically a person who is simple or naive or stupid or untrained or unlearned or unsuited or unknowledgeable or ignorant or all of those things combined.
When someone wants to tell you he's smarter than you, knows something more about a subject, wasn't born yesterday, in English he could say, “I've been around the block more than once. I know this and don't you compare yourself to me. So who are you bullshitting, mister?”
Fargess is often used by a guy who knows nothing about a certain field. When he can't give you factual information he tells you you'll never know half as much as he's forgotten. It's a saying common in political discussions. Two guys are arguing about Russia and neither one has any way to prove his point. So they start using insults to try to dominate the conversation.
One guy says, “You could study for a hundred years and still not know what I know on this subject.” The other guy says, “What! Are you telling me that the Czar of Russia was always a wonderful person? He was the worst bastard that ever lived.”
“Look, what I forgot about the Czar of Russia is ten times more than you ever learned about him.”
“Are you kidding? The Czar of Russia is my field.”
It's an argument nobody can prove. Like the one in which a guy says, “That's a beautiful girl.” His friend says, “That's not a beautiful girl. You're going to tell me about beautiful girls?”
The first guy says, “Oh, yeah? What do you know about beautiful girls?”
And when the other guy is stuck for an answer, he comes out with, “You'll never know half of what I've forgotten” To him, that wins the argument once and for all.
When someone gets all dolled up, all decorated, dressed to kill, someone else says, “Look how farputst!” A husband suprises a wife by putting on a clean shirt with cuff links attached to it, and wearing a tie that he usually saves only for bar mitzvahs and weddings. Immediately the wife is wondering if he's got something going on the side. She says, “So, where are you are going so farputst?”
And if he says, “Oh, nowhere,” then he's in trouble.
A woman is going to have a date with “Mr. Right,” and so she goes and buys an expensive dress, spends all day in the beauty parlor, and has her special manicurist work a double shift on her fingers. When she's finally ready to go out, with every hair in place and the eye shadow just perfect, a friend says, “You look so farputst, I didn't recognize you.” The woman might take this as a compliment, but it's really an insult, because this means that normally she looks like she just woke up.
Feh is the shortest, most efficient way in the Yiddish language to say something smells. Feh is the most undiplomatic way and the clearest and fastest way to say, “Boy, does that stink!” You could say it about everything from a leftover herring to an opera.
Ordinarily, a diplomatic person would say, “I don't think it's so great.” A more honest person would say, “'I'm sorry, I don't like it that much.” But an honest Jew says the same thing when something is not so hot. “Feh!”
Feh is something you say to a friend about another guy. If someone is walking around with a shirt that you can't stand, and he asks your opinion of it, you're not going to tell him it looks like it belongs in the garbage. You just tell him, “It's nice" or "It's very you”. But when you and your friend are discussing the shirt, the conversation goes, “You see that guy's shirt?” “Yeah?” “Feh!”
Frum Dein Moil Tzu Gott's Erin:
pronounced, froom DINE moyle tsoo GOTT'S err-in
It literally means, “From your mouth to God's ears.” It should only happen, whatever it is you're hoping for. God should only be listening. It comes when you want to give somebody a compliment. You say, “I see you're losing weight.” The guy knows he's not really losing weight. He says, “Frum dein moil tzu Gott's erin.” In other words, it should only be half as true as you're imagining it. God should only be listening to the words you just said because I know it's a long shot, I haven't got a chance, but if there's any possibility it requires God's help, so I hope he's hearing about it.
You hear this phrase a lot regarding hopes for children. Your son is three-and-a-half years old, but already the future is clear to his uncle. He tells you, “This one is going to become a doctor.” And that's when you say, “Frum dein moil tzu Gott's erin.”
pronounced, geh-FILL-teh fish. And CHRAINE, pronounced like crane, but with the gutteral “kh” for the “c”
I would say that the most popular Jewish dish, the most traditional Jewish dish is gefilte fish. Gefilte fish was originated by Jews in Eastern Europe. Since they couldn't afford one whole dish, they would grind up pieces of leftover fish and pack it together. It was a new fish: Gefilte fish, gefilte meaning, in Yiddish, “stuffed.”
Chraine means “horseradish” in Yiddish, and was the favorite condiment put on gefilte fish to give it a sharper taste. It's a bitter taste, and it was probably added to kill the taste of the original stuffed fish. Chraine contributes to giving a Jew heartburn, and Jews and heartburn go together. You almost never see a gentile that says to you, “I've got heartburn.” Every second Jew has heartburn. And every time you say hello to a Jew, he's got Rolaids, he's got Maalox, he's got pills. You get a medicine chest whenever you talk to a Jew. Gentiles carry pocketbooks with combs and lipstick. Jews carry those items, too, but most of their pocketbooks are filled with medicines.
Even the healthiest Jews have medicines and pills. You would think its only a sick person who has them, who's ninety-seven years old and in a wheelchair and who was told to take a pill every three minutes. The healthiest Jew, I don't care if he's nine years old, he already has Rolaids. He's got toys and Rolaids, because already he has an upset stomach. When the gentile is playing ball, the Jew is taking pills.
Now that I live in a gentile town, I could walk around the area a whole day and not find a single person with aspirin. But when I used to walk into a hotel on Miami Beach and say I have a headache, five thousand yentas were opening pill boxes.
They got pills for bigger headaches and for smaller headaches. They ask, “You got a migraine? Now they all become doctors. “You have a strong migraine or a weak migraine? Because I only have for a weak migraine. Shirley has for a strong migraine. You want a number three? I got a number three. How long you got it” Now they become experts. “You got it for an hour and a quarter? I got a white pill, I got a green one for an hour and a half. I got this one for three hours. I got something else for nine hours.”
Then they say, “I got one for walking. Are you going to be sitting or are you going to be dancing? If you're dancing I got a dancing pill. Are you going to be dancing fast or slow? I got a fast-dance pill and a slow-dance pill. Are you going to walk after you dance? Or are you going to lie down for an hour? I got for lying down or standing up.”
They've got every pill you could ever imagine. “Don't take this before you eat. Only eat a little before you take that. And drink all the water you can. Seltzer would be even better. But if you got no seltzer, plain soda. And watch out! Not too much. And take one every three hours unless you get a little nauseated. Then take one every four hours. You'll find that the pill dries up your throat. This is for a dry throat after the pill. This is for the sore throat before the pill. Then as you're going home, you'll notice that when you see the house you get a little dizzy, I got a dizzy pill after the dry one.”
They've got something for every kind of headache and every kind of stomach condition, and there's no disease you could have that they don't have a pill for. And then they always have the address of the best doctors in the field. “Don't go to him for the stomach. I got a better guy. Your guy is okay for the upper stomach, he'd be perfect. But you got a lower stomach. Forget about it, he'll kill you. He doesn't know anything about a lower stomach. What else? I got a doctor for this side that is fantastic. He's a left-side doctor. You cant top him.”
They've got addresses on top of addresses, medical advice on top of medical advice, pills on top of pills. And it all started with gefilte fish.
pronounced, GONT-seh meh-GILL-ah
It means to make a big deal or a major issue out of nothing. Someone asks, “What time is it?” And instead of simply answering the question, the other guy tells you where he bought his watch, how much it cost, how many watches he's got like it, and what time it is all over the world. He gives you the time in Africa, in Poland, in Turkey. Then he tells you the meaning of time, why time isn't important, and why you should never be in a hurry. And people should never ask the time because if you're only worried about time you'll get an ulcer. And you never do find out what time it is. He gives you a gantseh megillah.
pronounced, geh-HAK-teh LEE-ber
This is chopped liver, and Jews are always involved with chopped liver. Chopped liver has been such an essential part of the past of Jewish people that any time someone is stuck for something to say he compares it to chopped liver.
A woman asks, “Where are you going?”
The guy says, “To Pittsburgh.”
She says, “Are you taking me?
He says, “No.”
She says, “No? What am I, chopped liver?”
Any time someone feels left out, they say, “What am I, chopped liver?”
If a guy is standing on line in a bank and he sees somebody push ahead of him, right away he says, “Mister, where are you going? Don't you see I'm standing here? What am I, chopped liver?”
Chopped liver is the ultimate argument, too. Any time somebody wants to make a fool out of someone, he brings up chopped liver. Chopped liver means “no matter what you said, it's stupid.” Because if you compare it to chopped liver, you're proving to the person that he's an idiot, without calling him names. If you call him names, you're crude, but if you compare anything to chopped liver, then you think of yourself as being able to show a brilliant example.
So when somebody can't think of another example or comparison, the first thing he compares it to is chopped liver. If he had any intelligence, he would pick something else. A piece of fish, a slice of cake, a glass of tea. A lot of people can't even think of a simple thing like raisins or toast. But chopped liver is the ultimate haven for anyone whose mind has completely stopped working.
Someone asks, “Do you think Russia should have invaded Afghanistan?”
His friend says, “Positively not.”
“Afghanistan has the right to be completely independent just like any other country, What do you think it is, chopped liver?”
Countries are compared to chopped liver, women are compared to chopped liver, shirts are compared to chopped liver. It's the only word in the world that everything is compared to.
You never have to worry about saying it out of place.
Nothing! What your kid will get for her birthday if she doesn't start cleaning her room.
pronounced, like “Roy”
Any gentile is called a goy. Plural is goyim. It has nothing to do with the quality or character of a person. It is strictly an identifying term. It can be used derisively, however, by Jews as well as by gentiles when gentiles want to put themselves down, or want to poke fun at themselves when they think they've done or said something stupid. They'll refer to themselves as having “a goyishe keppe” A gentile head. “What can you do? I've got a goyish keppe”
Haimish means homey, warm, cuddly. It's usually used in the sense if “He's a haimisheh person.” It is somebody sweet, natural, unpretentious, kind, gentle, likeable. Somebody you feel comfortable to be with. If haimish was furniture, you could call it cozy for the apartment. A haimisheh person is not trying to prove a point and is not involved in status symbols. It's a real sweetheart of a person.
But it could also be used in the opposite way. If someone is trying to fix up a girl with a blind date, and the girl asks, “How does he look?” and she's told, “He's very haimish.” Immediately you know he doesn't look so hot.
A haimish person judges you by your character, not your money, by your mind, not your station in life. If he says hello to Rockefeller and Rockefeller says something stupid, he'll walk away from him.
Harry Truman, for example had the appearance of being haimish and Franklin Roosevelt did not. There was something about Roosevelt that was so grandiose and presidential that people felt reverent as soon as they saw him. You could never imagine being casual with Roosevelt and saying something like “Come here, Frank, I want to talk to you.” He seemed the type of guy who, if you called him haimish, would punch you in the mouth.
Truman was accessible and natural. He was the vice-president first but he looked and sounded like he never really became the president. He had the job, but he didn't notice. Every time Truman spoke he sounded like he really didn't think anybody was listening. When Roosevelt talked, he sounded like the whole world was listening and that every word counted. Truman talked like you had just woken him up at 4:00am and he just happened to tell you what he thought before he went back to sleep. He didn't act like he had to depend on your vote. This is what he has to tell you. If you want to listen, it's up to you.
Harry Truman even dressed like he never knew he was president. Everything he wore seemed like his hat, flat on his head, and with the brim pushed back. His glasses looked like he bought them in a flea market. The tie looked like it had been outdated for forty years. You just looked at him and knew he wasn't in it for the show. You knew he wasn't in it for the power, either, and that he was definitely haimish.
Hak Mir Nit Kain Tsheinik:
pronounced, HOCK meer nit kane CHIN-eek
The literal translation is “Don't bang on the tea kettle.” It means, “Stop knocking so much, stop making so much noise”- in other words, “Stop bothering me!”
When a person says something, you listen. When he says it a second time, you try to be polite. By the third time, you're nauseated. Hak mir nit kain tsheinik is like when a tea kettle is clopping and perking and jerking and jumping and bobbing before the tea's out. It's somebody talking so much that he creates a clamoring in your head.
I'm sure every married man at one time or another has thought about his wife and said to himself, “Stop banging on the tea kettle already!” It's usually when she's nagging him, asking for the same thing over and over again.
She says, “Put on your pajamas.”
You say, “I'm putting on my pajamas.”
She says, “What's taking you so long to put on your pajamas? Don't you have your pajamas on yet?”
And when your pajamas are on, she might go to another subject: “Did you close the window?”
You tell her, “I closed it.”
She says, “You mean you closed it already? You closed the window?
You repeat, “I closed it.”
She says, “It doesn't feel closed. You should close it again.”
She reminds you of something three hundred times. You're reading the paper and the next thing you hear is, “Listen, I think it's a good idea for you to call your daughter.”
“That's good, thank you. I think I'll call her.”
“Did you call her yet?”
“I didn't get a chance yet.”
“What's taking you so long?”
“I haven't put the paper down yet.”
“How long does it take you to put a paper down?”
“Okay! I'm putting the paper down.”
“So how come it's still in your hands?”
“I'm dropping it from my hands now.”
“Then leave it and call.”
“All right, I'll call.”
“So did you call yet?”
“I'm calling right now.”
“But I noticed you're still not on the phone.”
“I am on the phone.”
“So how come I don't hear you talking?”
Finally, you can't take it anymore. The person is talking past the point that serves a purpose. She can't make her point often enough. You got the point a week ago and she's still explaining it. And you thank God you can put a stop to it by screaming: “Hak mir nit kain tseinik!”
Ich Hob Zol in Bod:
Pronounced, ich HAWB zohl in BOHD
This literally translates as “I have you in the bath,” or “I hope you sink like a ship.” Either way, it's a wish that someone should disappear from your life. It means that he should be drowning by Thursday. And let him drown in the bathtub. And a bathtub is relating him to obscurity. “You should wallow in the water all by yourself!” Or “You should lay there like a dead horse.” These are some of the curses that are offshoots of Ich hob zol in bod.
It means, “get lost.” The man is nothing. He's a dead issue. His opinion is worthless. As far as I'm concerned, he belongs to the toilet. Or he shouldn't get out of the toilet.
He's a total toilet character.
In this case the bathtub is a euphemism for the toilet. A toilet in all languages is symbolic of death. Actually, you're not wishing him dead. Ich hob zol in bod is not quite hoping for a drowning. You just want him to be in a position where he can't holler for help. If he's in a tub of water, at least I won't hear him. Let him stay alive somewhere, but not in my neighborhood.
In Drerd Mein Gelt:
pronounced, EEN DREHRD MINE GELT
Literally it means, "My money went to hell." In other words, my money went down the toilet. It's the news of every Jewish husband whose wife has a credit card. In drerd mein gelt is what every Jew says every time his wife leaves to go shopping. Or every time a wife takes the car out, the husband is imagining crashes all over the country.
A parent sends his kid to college for an education. But as it turns out, the parent is the only one getting an education. The kid doesn't learn anything, but the parents- oy!- they're learning every day that they're money is going down the toilet.
No kid goes to college because he want's to learn something. He's going because he want's to get away from his parents. No matter how great the colleges are in the neighborhood, he never finds a college nearby. No college that is anywhere close to where his parents live is good enough for him. No matter where you are - next door to Harvard, Yale, Julliard- in the middle of forty-seven colleges, and all of a sudden you find out that the only college that's good for him is in Arizona.
That's when you know it's in drerd mein gelt.
Kishkes, literally translated, are the guts or the intestines, but figuratively speaking it's when you feel something in the deepest part of your body. It's the most profound emotion. When, for example, a father hears that his thirty-five year old daughter is finally getting married, he feels a happiness from the kishkes.
It's being surprised with a $3,000 return from the IRS.
It's opening the paper and getting a great review.
It's a woman flying across a store and grabbing the last dress on sale.
Those are times when you feel a thrill from the kishkes.
rhymes with guts
A clumsy, awkward person. A person who trips over things, bumps into walls and has "two left feet." A klutz is a person who frequently trips on his own shoelaces, falls over furniture and manages to drip mustard on his/her lap with such regularity that it confounds the laws of probability. Klutz's, however, are not unloved because they are usually the victims of their own misdeeds.
A kochleffl is a busybody, a man- or woman-about-town. He's a combination of Walter Winchell and a plain yenta. A kochleffl is a gossip columnist without a column. It's the kind of person who saves you the trouble of reading the paper. It's somebody who knows what's going on all over town.
Kochleffl is the German word for a long wooden spoon, and it's used to stir things, like at the bottom of a pot of vegetable soup. For a person, it's a stirrer-upper, too, but also it's one who's there when the stirring is going on. A kind of eyewitness to it.
No matter what you're talking about, a kochleffl has either heard about it or was there or will take charge of it or was once in charge of it. A yenta spends most of her time trying to louse other people up. The worse things are with other people, the happier the yenta is. But a kochleffl doesn't necessarily mean any harm, she just wants to be involved in every activity, in every direction, and in every room.
Someone asks you, "Where are you going tonight?" and a kochleffl tells you exactly where, and what time. And all of a sudden she's in charge of the trip. You keep wondering how she even got involved. You never asked her, you don't even know who she is. She just took over.
The only way to control a kochleffl is by getting out of town as fast as possible or by taking up a collection to get her out of town.
rhymes with stretch
There's a whole class of Jewish people who are kvetches. They can't be comfortable no matter what. They're always kvetching, or complaining. It's a way of attracting sympathy and attention. So they always have to say or pretend they're sick or dying. They cant depend on intelligence to interest you, or their personality or warmth or concern. So, they kvetch.
No matter when you say hello to them, something either hurts them or is about to hurt them. If nothing hurts, they don't understand why nothing hurts, it could have hurt, it should have hurt, it used to hurt. No matter where they are, every part of their body is always in trouble. If the foot is okay, then the head hurts. If the head is ok, then the finger has a lot of pain. All of a sudden, the second toe feels a little crooked to them. There's always something that feels strange. They always hear a buzzing in the ear: “There's something buzzing. I don't know what.”
As kvetches get older, they're in doctors' offices day and night. Every five minutes there's a different complaint. “There's something on the bottom of my thigh. Every time I move my foot, it lands on the floor. I can't figure it out. Every time I pick up the spoon, Doctor, my mouth opens. I don't know what it is.”
Litvaks and Galitzianers:
pronounced very much as they look
These are the names for Jews from Lithuania and Galicia- Galicia having been a province in Poland and then in Austria, when Austria took control of it. Lithuania and Galicia were neighbors and both were heavily populated with Jews, and the Jews had fierce loyalties to their regions. It is like the rivalries between the Russian Jews and the Hungarian Jews, or the White Russian Jews against the Jews from the Ukraine. There were divisions and there were jealousies and pride in their own groups.
It's no different from this country. Southerners always looked at Northerners as obnoxious. Northerners think that Southerners are ignorant. Most people outside of New York think of New Yorkers as hustlers, con men, liars, cheats and thugs. Meanwhile, New Yorkers think of Midwesterners as drab, colorless people with no personality. Everyone thinks that everyone in New York is in a hurry. New Yorkers think everyone else moves too slow.
Getting back to the Litvaks and Galitzianers, you see that everybody is involved in one kind of competition or another, one status symbol or another. If you're Jewish without a status symbol, you don't feel Jewish. Without being involved in a contest, you can't be a Jew. Jews are born to compete. They're born to be involved in a race with every other Jew and every other gentile, with everybody.
That's why, when you show a gentile a chair, he sits in it. When you show a Jew a chair, he gets into a fight about it. "You call this a chair? I've got a chair at home you would never believe."
When a gentile goes to the theater, he asks at the window, "Do you have any seats in the front for this price?" A Jew says, "Let me see the chart." They all want to see the theater seating chart. Then they all study it with a critical eye. And no matter which seat you offer them on the chart, that's not the one they want.
This is because Jews are involved in a race. They always know that somebody somewhere has a closer seat or a lower price or a bigger living room or a higher chair or a faster exercise bike. And it gets him nauseated. And that goes double if the other person is a Galitzianer and you're a Litvak.
Loch in Kop:
pronounced, LOKH en kohp
It's a hole in the head, as in, "I need this like a hole in the head."
When the stock market takes a plunge, every Jew is holding his head and running around saying the same thing, "I need this like a loch in kop."
It's a typical thing that Jews say about partners in business. Each partner things that he's the only one who is necessary. No matter how much the other partner has been making for the business, the first guy is convinced that his partner is out to break him. He can do better without him, and if he doesn't get rid of him soon they're going to get wiped out. He says, "I need him like a loch in kop."
Machen a Tzimmis:
pronounced, MAKH-en ah TSIM-is
When you make a big fuss about something, a big issue, a big tumult, that's called a machen a tzimmis. A tzimmis is a compote, a side dish of cooked fruits and vegetables. It's a kind of commotion or a mixture of fruits. And machen is "making."
Machen a tzimmis is the taking of extraneous issues- irrelevant, unnecessary issues- and blowing them up into a significance that is undeserving. It's preparing a whole stew when all you wanted was a carrot. In other words, it's making a mountain out of a molehill.
It's also a way of getting out of a jam. Every time a guy is caught with crooked goods and he wants to whitewash it, he'll always say, "You're making a whole tzimmis out of nothing."
It is all a matter of perspective, two people with different views. Every time one Jew gets excited, there's always another saying, "Don't make such a tzimmis."
Unless it's happening to you, it is always nothing. A Jew who tries to park his car into a space usually has a yenta sitting next to him directing: "Turn it to the left! Turn it to the right! Oy, you missed it! What's taking you so long? Oy, a klug, not so fast, not so short, not so loud, you could have had it before!" Every husband is yelling, "Don't make such a tzimmis, you big yenta."
Tzimmis often goes together with a phrase like "big yenta."
A maven is an expert, and it's something that every Jew thinks he is on every subject that exists. A maven is someone who knows everything. And if he doesn't he would never admit it. If he's not an expert on every subject, then he either had to convert, or he passed away fifty years ago.
Any Jew who is not a maven automatically loses his right to be a Jew. He automatically loses his membership in his temple, too. A Jew becomes a maven not because he learned the subject, but because someone asked his opinion.
A Maven is one of the major differences between Jews and gentiles. Gentiles at least let you finish a question before they give you an answer. A Jew gives you an answer whether he knows the question or not. A gentile has to find out about it, a Jew is an expert even if he never heard of it.
A Jew may know absolutely nothing about the opera, but when you bring him there, he's a maven. When you ask how this is possible when he didn't know an opera from a tse-tse fly, he gives you one answer that puts you in your place: "Never mind."
A Jew is the natural maven. From the day he's born, he becomes a maven in every field. Even before a Jew can talk, he already has an opinion and he can't tell it to you yet.
Did you ever show a Jew something and he couldn't tell you whether it was good or bad? Or if it's going to work or not? That's why, whenever a Jew buys something, he always takes another Jew with him. He'll never take a gentile because a gentile might say he's not sure about it. Every time a Jew wants to buy a house, he takes another Jew along. A gentile takes an appraiser, a Jew takes a maven. An appraiser shows up with rulers and yardsticks and wrenches and magnifying glasses. A maven comes in and knocks on a wall, opens a window, and measure off the distance in a room by putting one foot in front of the other. An appraiser takes six weeks to figure out an answer. A maven tells you in seventeen seconds.
Economists are always mavens. An economist tells you what's going to happen and then explains to you why it didn't. Politicians aren't mavens because they're always trying to find out what you think first, and then they agree with you.
The economist tells you first that the stock market is going to go up. Then when it goes down, he says that that's not what he meant. And if he meant it, you didn't understand it because it's not his fault that he said it.
It's always because something happened that wasn't supposed to happen. The incident is at fault. The country is at fault, the currency's at fault, everything is at fault except what the maven was predicting. If the world had stayed the same, things would never have happened as they did. He can't manage the world. He can only manage the prediction. So if you mix him up, it's not his fault.
The maven is never confused by the facts. He is never confused by information. He's never confused by anything, which is why he's always right, even when he's wrong.
pronounced, MAH-zel toff
Whenever somebody accomplishes something that calls for a celebration, you have a mazel tov. You always shout "mazel tov!" whenever anything good happens. It's good luck, loads of luck, congratulations, that's terrific, what a fabulous thing! "Mazel tov!" You invest $50 in a stock that you never heard of and a year later you find it actually made money. Not only did it make money, but you were able to send your son to medical school. That's a mazel tov.
And if you happened to get off the Titanic in time, then that's a double mazel tov.
It's a pleasure! That's what mecheieh means. The word is often used to express relief from human misery. A man walking around a subway station looking for a men's room for a week-and-a-half. When he finally finds one, "Oy, a mecheieh."
It's used when you find a fresh roll under a basket of stale ones. Or your umbrella finally opens in the rain. Or your mother-in-law stops talking for five seconds.
If a guy is sweating in 90-degree weather, and walks into an air-conditioned room when he wasn't expecting it, immediately every Jew will say the same thing, "Oy, a mecheieh!"
They talk to the room. A mecheieh is something that's such a pleasure you don't have to have a person in front of you to tell it to. When a Jew says, 'a mecheieh," there's likely to be no one else there. The pleasures are something that he can't wait to bless and he can't wait for anybody to listen to.
This term covers anybody you consider nuts. When you call someone a meshuggenah, you're saying he/she's beyond stupid, but you're saying it in a playful and colloquial way. A man sees John Gotti about to park his car in a space, and then decides to beat him to it. That's a real meshuggenah.
To snack, munch, or graze on foods—i.e., "Are you still noshing?" A nosh can be the object of the noshing—i.e., "Do you want a nosh?"
Oy Gevalt :
"May a great power intervene on my behalf." Used in desperate situations like when you get a call from the IRS or your dog digs up the neighbor's prize rose bushes.
Oy Veh :
A combination of oy gevalt and veh is mir. An expression of exasperation, i.e., "What now?!" or "Oh, no!"
The term pupik refers to the physical anatomy of a womans, well, her private parts. Two old Jews are sitting on a park bench when a young woman walks by in a mini-skirt. The old lady turns to the old man and says "Did you see! The girls today, they wear the clothes right up to the pupik!" The old man nods but thinks to himself "Such a blessing!"
An all purpose word to describe something as either crazy, nutty or insane. A Jewish fisherman who doesn't get a bite after 5 seconds, screams "Oy vey, these schmeckena fish!" Never considering the fact that putting bait on the hook might improve his chances.
Schmegeggie translates into something to the effect of 'numb nuts' or 'idiot'. It sounds harsh in translation, but its a bit less severe than it implies. For instance, you just spent three hours calming down an angry customer by telling them that you would send them a new can opener because the one they bought was defectively left-handed, not right, a freak accident in production. The old can opener arrives and your assistant opens the package. He decides that this customer wants a new left-handed can opener. Without telling you, he stops production and instructs the entire staff to reproduce a left-handed opener to be shipped out immediately.
When you catch up to him and realize what's been done, you scream "I've never seen such a bunch of schmegeggies in all my life!"
Schmegeggie can also be used in a teasing way between Jews. Gentile men sometimes call their male friends by affectionate 'pet' names such as "butt plug" (between friends, this is ok) The same goes when a Jew calls his friend "schmegeggie." It's a pun intended, affectionate way to say "hey, fart face" or "hey, gonads!" Again, it is not as harsh as its English translations. A schmegeggie can also be used as a generic term for a person, the way 'Joe Blow' is often used.
To drag. Not merely move an object, but to accept a greater burden than any person should be expected to—i.e., to shlep yourself to the mall to shop for presents, shlep the load of presents to your car, then shlep them into your house
A person who is stupid, foolish, inept, boring and/or poorly dressed.
To shmear is often used to refer to the act of 'spreading' a condiment, such as cream cheese on a bagel. It is also commonly used to refer to an activity with all its related features as in "the whole shmear."
A shortened version of schmuck; not quite as derogatory.
Idle talk, gossip, chat. To shmooze is to have a lightweight conversation. Schmoozing often is a necessity when dealing with business associates. For instance, a good salesman will have exceptional schmoozing skills, he can talk for hours about nothing, constantly reminding you that you are being ultimately informed.
(note: in order to pronounce this word, you must get a gutteral hacking-up-type sound during the 'KH'. try pretending to dislodge a peanut stuck in your throat )
Tuchas is another form of Tush, but it is slightly more abrasive. For instance, the term "Potchya en Tuchas"
It's definition is pretty much the same as it sounds...."I'm going to "potchya (give you a punch, a sock, etc)
en tuchas (in the rear-end, ass, etc) if you dont' behave!"
It's a form of telling someone you've about had it with them and are going to give them a swift kick if they don't shape up.
rhymes with push
The term used to refer to the part of the human anatomy upon which you sit.
English translation is a 'rear-end'.
Veh is mir :
"I am pain itself!" A most melodramatic expression of suffering, used to describe everyday miseries such as shaving nicks, sinus headaches or acid indigestion. A favorite expression of kvetches and yentas, often preceded by oy.