Common Yiddish Words used in English

Robert S. Thau (
Mon, 13 Dec 1999 11:53:05 -0500 (EST)

Rohit Khare writes:
> Yiddish Words
> Found in English

There's no standard for anglicization, but the anglicizations here are
unusual --- particularly since the ones in the definition don't always
agree with the sample use. A few standouts:

> Definition Sample Use
> bob(kes) beans, nothing He gave me babkes.

More often "bupkes".

> khutspe unmitigated gall Oy, you have got a lot of khutspe!

More often "chutzpah", as in the example repeated the second time this
word shows up in the list.

> farkatk(e) lousy, ridiculous That's a facacta idea.

The one on the right is missing the "r"

> goyish(e) mind of a goyim He's got a real goyishke kup.

That's "goyishe kopf" --- for head. (Yiddish is actually an old
German dialect with a smattering of Hebrew mixed in; this "kopf" is
the same word you can find in occasional English imports from modern
German like "dummkopf").

> mazl-tov congratulations Mazel tov on the new baby.

Actually Hebrew, literally "good stars". The ancient Hebrews
believed in heavenly portents as much as anyone.

> mitsve a good deed That was a real mitzvah you did.

Again, Hebrew.

> kibitz to meddle She likes to kibbutz with everyone at the office

Just as often "gossip".

> meyvin connoisseur She's quite the mavin when it comes to wine.

More often "maven".