There is a logical reason why so many words of Jewish origin are found in the English language. The most obvious is that Jews have settled in many English speaking countries because they are accepted there, and feel safe, and because Jews gravitate to democracies. Most if not all English speaking countries are, thank God, democracies If you look up Oxford English dictionaries you will find most of these words. Good luck and happy word hunting. The Oxford English Dictionary is indeed your best bet. Yiddish is a Germanic language originally spoken by Jews of Central and Eastern Europe  written in the Hebrew alphabet and containing a substantial substratum of words from Hebrew as well as loans of words from a Slavic origin, but have entered English via their Yiddish form.

1. Bagel A ring-shaped bread roll made by boiling or steaming and then baking the dough  (Romanized Beygl)

2. Blintz : a sweet cheese crepe  from Belarusian Romanized blincy

3. Bris: the circumcision of a male child  bris from Hebrew (literally covenant)

4. Boychik: boy  young man  Eastern Yiddish (Slavic)

5. Bupkis (also bupkes, bupkus Bubkis ,Bubkes )  emphatically nothing as in He isn`t worth bupkis, bobkes of uncertain origin perhaps (goat)  droppings of Slavic origin

6. Chutzpah:  from Hebrew- nerve, guts , daring audacity, balls effrontery

7. Daven: pray  recitation of Jewish liturgical prayer

8. Dybbuk: the malevolent spirit of a dead person that enters and controls a living body until exorcized–from Yiddish

9. Fleishig: made with meat  of German origin

10. Ganef or gonif: thief  from Hebrew  thief , scoundrel rascal

11. Gelt: money in general  also the chocolate given to children on Hanukkah comes also from German geld

12. Glitch: a minor malfunction  of German glitschen

13.Golem : a Frankenstein monster, an android from Hebrew Golem

14 Goy a Gentile , not of Jewish faith from Hebrew

15. Haimish: (also heimish) home-like friendly of German 

16. Handle  to bargain  comes from German

17. Huck: to bother incessantly , to break or nag  there is a Jewish expression “huck a chinuk”  talk like a kettle making noise boiling

18. Kasha: Porridges, buckwheat groats

19. Khazeray:  Chazeray  that is awful, junk trash anything disgusting

20. Kibitz: To offer unwanted advice, to converse idly  of German descent  Keibitz

21. Kike: a derogatory slur used  to refer to Jews  similar in a derogatory fashion to Nigger for black

22. Klutz:  clumsy person  from Polish

22. Knish: Doughy snack consisting mainly of potatoes meat and chees

 23.  Kosher: correct according to Jewish law , normally used in reference to dietary law, appropriate  legitimate

24. Kvell: to express great pleasure along with pride  from German derivation 

25. Kvetch: to complain habitually, gripe: as a noun a person who always complain, press squeeze Kvetshn  Aramaic, Hebrew

26. Latke: potato pancake, especially during Hanukkah Ukrainian derivative, romanized  

27. Litvak : a Lithuanian Jew

28. Lox:  cured salmon, used loosely to refer smoked salmon  German descent

29.  Macher:  big shot, important person  

30.  Mamzer:  bastard  Yiddish   Hebrew

31.  Maven:  expert; when used in a negative sense: a know-it-all  Hebrew

32.  Mazel Tov  Mazal Tov    good luck     good fortune  Hebrew

33.   Mazel Tov:   congratulations

34.  Megillah:  a tediously detailed discourse,  the whole extended explanation

35.  Mensch: an upright man , a decent human being , German

36. Meshuga:   Meshugge  crazy Meshuggener Meshuggench  a crazy man or woman respectively  Hebrew

37. Meshugaas: Mishegaas a senseless activity or behavior

38. Meshuggenench  a crazy woman

39. Meshuggener : a crazy man

40. Milchig: made with milk   German

41. Minyan: quorum of 10 adults Jews 13 or older necessary for worshipping == Hebrew

42. Mishpocha: extended family, relative

43 Naches: feeling of pride and gratification in achievement of another or ones own doing — Hebrew

44 Narrischkeit : foolishness, nonsense  German origin

45. Nebbish: an insignificant,pitiful , a nonentity person perhaps— Czech

46. Noodge: to pester, nag  as a noun a pest  multipurpose 

47. Nosh: snack  German derivation

48. Nu: analogous to well or so  what– multipurpose

49. Nudnik: a pain in the neck, a bore  possibly Polish

50 Oy or Oy  Vey: interjection of grief or pain  from German

51.Pareve. containing neither meat or dairy  Hebrew

52 . Pisher   a nobody, an inexperienced person  also  piss  from German

53. Potch : spank, slap smack  strong emotion  German

54. Plotz:  to burst as from strong emotion  used humorously  minor shock 

55. Putz:  vulgar a penis, used as an insult

56.  Schav : a chilled soup made of sorrel  from Polish

57.Schlemiel: a bungler, an inept person  a bungler  a dolt  from Hebrew

58. Schlep: to drag or haul, influence, to make a tedious journey  from  German

59 Schlimazel: a chronically unlucky person difference between Schlemiel and Schlimazel The Schlemiel spills soup on Schlimazel,Dutch

60. Schlock: something cheap or shoddy  German

61.Schlong (vulgar) penis  also  snake  German

62. Schlub. a clumsy,inept or stupid person  unattractive  Polish

63. Schmaltz. melted chicken fat  German

64 Schmatte : a rag junk or low quality  Polish

65 Schmeer: spread cheese on a bagel, bribe  German

66. Schmegeggy: an idiot

67. Schmo: a stupid person , an alternative to schmuck

68. Schmooze: make small talk, informal conversation  Hebrew

69. Schmuk: (vulgar) a jerk, foolish person literally means penis

70. Schmutter: clothing , rubbish

71. Schmutz; dirt  German

72.Schnook: a pitiful person , easily imposed on, a cute or mischievous person  German

73. Schnorrer : one who wheedles others into supplying his wants  German

74. Schnoz: a nose, especially a large one

75. Schavartze:  a term used to denote black people sometimes derogatory  German

76. Schvitz: to sweat, perspire, a sauna

77. Shabbos, Shabbas:      Shabbat  Hebrew  Sabbath

78.  Shalom: peace   , greeting   Hebrew

79.Shammes:  caretaker of a synagogue  Hebrew

80. Shamus : detective

81. Shegetz  a young non-Jewish male  derogatory

82. Shemozzle: quarrel  brawl

83. Shikker: a drunk  Hebrew

84. Shikse: a non-Jewish woman  often derogatory

84. Shikse: a non-Jewish woman, derogatory word

85. Shmendrik: a foolish or contemptible person

86. Shtetl: a small town with a large Jewish population in pre holocaust Europe  German

87. Shtibl:  little house, small synagogue or place of worship

88. Shtick : comic theme, defining habit,  distinguishing feature

89. Shtup: vulgar slang for intercourse  Shtum  quiet  silent

90. Shul: synagogue  German

91  Shpiel: a sales pitch                                                                                                          

92. Shpritz: a spray of water, sprinkle lightly  SHVITZ   to sweat

93 Tchotchke: knickknack, trinket  Polish

 94. Tref:  or Trayf non-kosher  Hebrew

95. Tzimmes:   Tsimmes a sweet stew, a fuss, a confused affair

96.Tsuris: troubles  grief

97. Tukhus: rear end, ass  buttocks

98 . Tummler: an entertainer, Master of ceremonies  German

 99.. tush tuchus rear end

100. Vigorish: that portion of winnings held by book-maker or dealer  payment for service

 101. Witz: joke

102. Yarmulke:  round skullcap worn by observant Jew

103. Yekke: a German Jew  midly derogatory

104. Yente: a talkative woman   gossip  German

105. Yiddish: Jewish language  German

106 Yom Tov Jewish holiday  Hebrew forbidden to work

  107. Yutz.: a fool  German

108. Zaftig: pleasingly plump ,full figured woman  German






Name of author

Name: Murray Rubin

Short Bio: I was born in Toronto in 1931 to a wonderful mother who divorced shortly before my birth. I owe a great deal of my success to her. I am Jewish but not at all religious, yet my culture plays an important part of my personality. I attended Harbord Collegiate and U. of T. Faculty of Pharmacy. A unique mail-order pharmacy was the first of my endeavours in the profession, followed by many stores throughout Ontario. I have a loving wife, 3 children and grand-children and I am now retired from pharmacy. But what do I write about? Everything! My topics are funny, serious, whimsical, timely, outrageous, inspiring, and inventive. I promise that if you take the time to read any one of these topics – you will not be sorry.


  • Murray, you didn’t provide the national origin for all the chosen words. I also wonder how many of the words you show really have made it into conversational English. Some have, but surely not all of them. As for “shmatte,” I’ve read that it originated in the Jews of Pyranees fleeing the Inquisition. They took with them their dogs, the wool oif which (it’s not fur) they wove into cloth and called “shmatte.”

    • Cubby I looked up most of the words and if you bother 90% are in the recent edition of the Oxford dictionary No I did not produce the origin for some words because I did not know Murray

  • As iz ahzoi git tzoo haren ah Yiddisha vort!!
    Blibe gazint ahn shtark…


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