A bit of Yiddish to warm the soul

schnook, schnorrer, megillah, meshuga, schlump…

Who can resist such words? I plan on working at least one of these into my conversation today.

I’ve copied from last week’s Wordsmith.org emails.

A language is the soul of its people. This is nowhere illustrated more profoundly than in the Yiddish language, the language of Jews of eastern and central Europe and their descendants. A tongue full of wit and charm, Yiddish embodies deep appreciation of human behavior in all its colorful manifestations. The word Yiddish comes from German Judisch meaning Jewish. But it is not the same as Hebrew, even though it is written in Hebrew script…

…Many of the everyday English language words such as bagel, klutz, and kibitz are terms from Yiddish. This week we’ll look at a few other Yiddishisms that have enriched the English language.

schnook (shnook) noun

A stupid, easily deceived person.

[From Yiddish shnuk (snout) or from German schnucke (a small sheep).]

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)

“A gun-toting schnook became an embarrassing crook when he robbed
  a Spokane dollar store Sunday. Seriously, if you’re going to commit
  a Class A felony, you might as well rob a Class A joint.”
  Frank Sennett; Dollar-Store Thief Bucks Common Sense; Spokesman Review
  (Washington); Mar 9, 2007.

schnorrer (SHNOR-uhr) noun

One who habitually takes advantage of others’ generosity,
  often through an air of entitlement.

[From Yiddish, from German schnurren (to purr, hum, or whir), from the sound of a beggar’s musical instrument.]

megillah (meh-GIL-uh) noun

A long, tedious account.

[From Yiddish megile (scroll), from Hebrew megillah, from galal (to roll).
The term alludes to the length of the text in the Book of Esther which is read in its entirety, twice, during Purim, a Jewish festival.]

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)

“But the obvious challenge was to go through the whole megillah — to
  begin with the Andante in C Major, which Mozart wrote when he was five,
  and proceed to the bitter end, the Requiem.”
  Alex Ross; The Storm of Style; The New Yorker; Jul 24, 2006

meshuga or meshugga (muh-SHOOG-uh) adjective

Crazy; stupid.

[From Yiddish meshuge, from Hebrew meshugga.]

Today’s word in Visual Thesaurus: http://visualthesaurus.com/?w1=meshuga

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)

“Plenty of hip-hoppers want to be considered insane, but only Paul Barman
  wants to be known as meshuga.”
  David Segal; The Weirder, the Better; The Washington Post; Jun 25, 2000.

schlump (shlump) noun

A dull or slovenly person.

[From Yiddish shlumperdik (unkempt, sloppy).]

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)

“‘You don’t want to dress up too much, but you don’t want to be
  a schlump,’ says Michael Kors.”
  Hal Rubenstein; Terrific Style by Age, by Size, by Shape, by Color;
  In Style (New York); Aug 2006.

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