The Real Yiddish Your Bubbe Never Taught You

Written by:
Illustrated by: Kim Wilson Brandt

Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781440621154
  • 112 Pages
  • Plume
  • Adult


One doesn’t have to be Jewish to recognize the words that have made their way into every fold of popular language: Chutzpah, Mensch, Tokhes, Mishmash, Nudge, Shtick, Schmaltzy, Schlep, Icky, and so on. Then there are phrases whose meaning and syntax are borrowed from Yiddish: “bite your tongue”, “drop dead”, “enough already”, and “excuse the expression”. This hilarious, concise guide includes chapters on the Basic Descriptions of People (the good, the bad, the ugly, and the goofy), the Fine Art of Cursing, Juicy Words and Phrases, Exclamations and Exasperations, and the Fine Art of Blessing.

Table of Contents

Drek!Introduction: A Note on Pronunciation and Spelling
I. People: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
(including a mensch, a momzer, and a mieser)

II. The Sh Words: For Fools, Misfits, and Other Dysfunctional Types
(from shlemiel to shlemazel)

III. Words Your Bubbeh Never Taught You
Some “bad” and bawdy words that made Bubbehs blush

IV. Daily Reflections: Bewitched, Bothered, and Besotted (and Other States of Mind)
(or farmisht, fartumelt, and farblonzhet)

V. Exclamations and Exasperations
(from Alevai to Zay gezunt)

VI. The Fine Art of Cursing
(such as A krenk zol im arayn in di yosles: May a disease enter his gums; and Er zol vaksen vi a tzibeleh mit dem kop in drerd: You should grow like an onion with your head in the ground.)

VII. The Fine Art of Blessing
(such as A gezunt dir in pupik: Good health in your belly; and Du zolst nit vissen fun tsores: You should never know from misery.)

VIII. Proverbs and Sayings: The Wise and the Witty
Yiddish wisdom through the ages

IX. Food, Glorious Food
(how to order everything from gefilte fish to a glezel tea)

X. Yiddish for Everyday Occasions
(how to say everything from Where is the post office? to Help!)

XI. Love, Marriage, and the Jewish Family
(from leben, to khasseneh, to get)

XII. Words for the Shul
(from what to wear [a tallis] to what to do [daven])

XIII. Juicy Yiddish Words and Phrases
(from kitzel to a shtick mazel)

XIV. Yinglish: The Yiddish You Already Know without Knowing It
(from All right already to You should excuse the expression)

Afterword: What Yiddish Looks Like, Reads Like, and Morphs Like