What Are Some Common Yiddish Expressions?


Quick Answer

One common Yiddish expression is "Tsu darfn vi a lokh in kop," which means that someone needs something like they need a hole in the head. Many translated Yiddish expressions like this are in use in English, including "Get lost!" and "It's okay by me." "Oy vey!" is another common Yiddish phrase, which means "Oh dear!" Based on German dialect combined with Hebrew and Slavic languages, Yiddish was spoken by Jews in central and eastern Europe before World War II.

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Full Answer

"Mamaloshn" means "mother tongue" in Yiddish and is part of another common Yiddish expression: "lomir redn mamaloshn." Literally, this translates to "let's talk Yiddish," but the subtext means, "let's get to the heart of the matter."

Yiddish is still spoken in Israel and parts of the United States and Europe. The Yiddish expression "Keep schtum" is common in London, especially among Cockneys. "Schtum" is Yiddish for silent.

Many Yiddish words start with sch-, including "schmaltz," which is "dripping lard" in Yiddish but means "excessive sentimentality" in English. The expression "to schmooze" is another example, and means "to chat intimately and cosily."

Yiddish insults include "klutz," which is someone clumsy, awkward and foolish; "schmuck," which literally means penis and refers to a foolish or contemptible person and "putz," which means a stupid or worthless person. Yiddish compliments include calling someone a "maven," an expert or connoisseur or saying they are a "mensch," a man of integrity and honor.

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