A wide array of Yiddish words and expressions embellish the English language today. These are often referred to as Yiddish borrowings or Yiddish loan words in English. Most of the Yiddish words and expressions were borrowed into English from the Jewish communities in America, ‘the great melting pot of cultures’. A number of Yiddish words also entered English through large Jewish communities in Britain, where the Yiddish language has exerted a strong influence on the Cockney dialect.

In the modern times, Jewish scriptwriters have introduced many Yiddish words into films with the original meanings often changed drastically. The following is a list of Yiddish words often used in English. Search a word to find its meaning and history.

Yiddish WordEnglish Meaning
bagelA ring-shaped bread roll made by boiling, then baking, the dough. From Yiddish beygel
balebosteAn efficient housewife or hostess
beheymecow, a big dummy (used of women)
blintzA sweet cheese-filled crepe
brisThe circumcision of a male child.
boychikBoy, young man.
bubeledear, sweetie (little bube)
bupkis, bupkes, bupkus, bubkis, bubkesEmphatically nothing, as in He isn't worth bupkis. Literally meaning either 'beans' or 'goat droppings'.
chazereijunk stuff. Literally meaning 'pig food'.
chutzpahbrazen boldness, guts, daring, audacity, effrontery. (from Hebrew huspah)
ChochmahA joke, originally a piece of wisdom, from Hebrew chacham - a wise man.
davenTo recite Jewish liturgical prayers.
drecktrash (from drek; excrement)
dreidel, dreidlA four-sided top used in a child’s game often played on Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights.
dybbukThe malevolent spirit of a dead person that enters and controls a living body until exorcised. (from Hebrew dibbuq; ghost)
farblondzhetWandering aimlessly, confused.
farshtunkenerstinking, nasty person.
fartumltconfused and disoriented.
fleishigMade with meat.
ganef or gonifThief, scoundrel, rascal.
gefiltestuffed, filled (gefilte fish is ground, boned fish mixed with matzo meal and eggs, then shaped into balls and poached in broth)
geltMoney; chocolate coins eaten on Hanukkah.
gevaltviolence, force.
glitchA minor malfunction. (from German glitschen; to slip)
golemA life-like creature, a man-made humanoid; an android, clay icon. (from goylem, fool, derived from Hebrew golem; shapeless mass)
gonif, goniff, ganefA thief, swindler.
goyA Gentile, term for someone not of the Jewish faith or people. (from Hebrew goy; people, nation)
goyishnon-Jewlike, derogatory term.
haimish, heimishHome-like, friendly, cosy.
hamantasch, hamantashA Jewish pastry, eaten at the feast of Purim
handelFood that is awful; junk, trash; anything disgusting, even loathsome.
huck, hock, huk, hakTo offer unwanted advice, e.g. to someone playing cards; to converse idly, hence a kibitzer, gossip.
kashaA derogatory slur used to refer to Jews.
khazeray, chazeray, chozzeraiintestine, gut, stuffed skin.
kibitzdullard, clumsy person. (from klots; wooden beam)
kikeDoughy snack consisting mainly of potato.
kishkes, kishkastuffed derma
klutzawkward, clumsy, blundering person
knisha rollof bread dough stuffed with meat, potato, or buckwheat.
kosherfit to eat according to Jewish law, appropriate, legitimate. (from Hebrew kaser; fit, proper)
kreplachtriangular dumplings.
kvellto be delighted, pleased.
kvetchTo complain habitually, gripe; as a noun, a person who always complains. (from kvetshn; to squeeze, to pinch)
latkePotato pancake, especially during Hanukkah.
LitvakA Lithuanian Jew.
loxCured salmon.
luftmenschsomeone whose head is in the clouds, dreamer.
macherBig shot, important person.
mamzer, momzerillegitimate child, bastard.
matzo, matzohunleavened bread eaten at Passover. (from Hebrew massah; cake of unleavened bread)
mavenExpert, connoisseur, when used in a negative sense a know-it-all; enthusiast. (from meyvn, which is from Hebrew mebhin; understanding)
mazel tov, mazal tovCongratulations! (from Hebrew mazzal; star)
mazumamoney, cash
megillahlong story, rigmarole.
menschAn upright man, an admirable human being.
meshuga, meshugge, meshugah, meshuggahCrazy, insane, nonsense.
meshugaas,mishegaas, mishegossCrazy or senseless activity or behavior; craziness.
meshuggeneh, meshuggeneA crazy woman.
meshuggener, meshugana, meshugganaA crazy man.
milchigMade with milk.
minyanThe quorum of ten adult (i.e., 13 or older) Jews that is necessary for the holding of a public worship service; in Orthodox Judaismten adult males are required, while in Conservative and Reform Judaism ten adults of either sex are required.
mishpocha, mishpocheclan, extended family.
naches, nakhesFeeling of pride, joy, pleasure.
narrischkeitFoolishness, nonsense
nebbish, nebbichAn insignificant, pitiful person, a nobody. (from nebekh; poor, unfortunate)
noodge, nudzhTo pester, nag, whine; as a noun, a pest or whiner.
nuMultipurpose interjection often analogous to "well?" or "so?"
nudnikA pest, "pain in the neck"; a bore.
oy, oy veyInterjection of grief, pain, or horror.
pastramia highly seasoned shoulder cut of smoked beef.
pareveContaining neither meat nor dairy products.
pisherA nobody, an inexperienced person.
potchSpank, slap, smack.
plotzTo burst, as from strong emotion.
putza fool or an unpleasant person
schavA chilled soup made of sorrel.
schlemiel, shlemielA clumsy person, fool, social misfit.
schlepTo drag or haul (an object); to walk, esp. to make a tedious journey.
schlimazel, schlemazlA chronically unlucky person.
schlock, shlockSomething cheap, shoddy, or inferior.
schlubA clumsy, stupid, or unattractive person
schmaltzMelted chicken fat; excessive sentimentality.
schmatta, shmatteA rag. (from schmatte, which is from Polish szmata; rag)
schmeer, schmearNoun or verb spread (e.g., cream cheese on a bagel); bribe.
schmegeggyan idiot
schmoA stupid person.
schmoozeTo converse informally, make small talk or chat with associates. (from shmues chat, which is from Hebrew shemuoth; news, rumor)
schmutterClothing; rubbish.
schnookA particularly gullible person.
schnorrerBeggar, especially one who wheedles others into supplying his wants. (from German Schmurrer; beggar
schnoz, schnozz, schnozzleA nose, especially a large nose. (from shnoits; snout)
schvartzeTerm used to denote Black people.
schvitzSchvitz or schvitzing To sweat, perspire, exude moisture as a cooling mechanism.
Shabbos, Shabbas, ShabbesShabbat.
shalomPeace', used to say hello or goodbye.
shammes or shamashThe caretaker of a synagogue; also, the 9th candle of the Hanukkah menorah, used to light the others.
shamusA detective.
shegetzA young non-Jewish male. (Derogatory)
shemozzle (slang)quarrel, brawl. (from Hebrew shellomazzal; bad luck)
shikker, shicker, shickeredDrunk.
shiksa, shikseA young non-Jewish woman. (Often derogatory)
shmatecheap dress
shmeerbribe, grease the palm.
shmegegebuffoon, idiot
shmendrik, shmendrickA foolish ineffectual person.
shteigIn a secular sense, to accumulate wealth and possessions; in the realm of spirituality, to grow in wisdom.
shtetlA small town with a large Jewish population in pre-Holocaust Eastern Europe. (plural shtetls or stetlach)
shtiebellittle house, little room
shtickComic theme; a gimmick, a person’s individual interest or activity.(from shtik pranks, piece)
shtoomsilent, mute (from German stumm; silent)
shulSynagogue, Jewish place of worship that is also a place of study. (from German Schule; school)
spiel, shpielA sales pitch or speech intended to persuade.
spritzA sprinkling or spray of liquid; a small amount of liquid. (verb) to spray, sprinkle.
tchotchkeKnickknack, trinket, curio.
tref, trayf, traifNot kosher.
tzimmesA sweet stew of vegetables and fruit; a fuss, a confused affair.
tsuris,tsoresTrouble, worries or afflictions.
tukhusButtocks, bottom, rear end.
tummlerAn entertainer or master of ceremonies, especially one who encourages audience interaction.
tush, tushyButtocks, bottom, rear end.
vigorish (contracted form vig.)That portion of the gambling winnings held by the bookmaker as payment for services.
verklemptChoked with emotion.
veypain, as in "oy vey"
yarmulkeRound prayer cap of the type traditionally worn by male Orthodox Jews
Yekke(Mildly derogatory) a German Jew
yentaA talkative woman, a gossipy person, a scold. (from the personal name Yente)
yontef also yom tovA Jewish holiday on which work is forbidden.
yutzA fool.
zaftigPleasingly plump, buxom, juicy. (from zaftik; juicy, succulent, which is from German saftig; juicy)
zhlubAn insensitive, boorish person.

About Yiddish Language Indian Words in English

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