Am I Jewish or Just from New York?

I feel like a stranger in my own city more and more every day.  Maybe I’m just old. Maybe it’s all the hipster douchebags implying that this is their city now and that if I don’t like it here I should leave. It could also be that hardly anyone has the NY accent anymore and several assholes take classes to try to lose it. Guess what? If you’re embarrassed to sound like you’re a NYer, you should just leave. We won’t miss you. 

 Maybe, though, it’s because only I and a handful of other people who are from NY but are not Jewish can speak Yiddish.

Confused? That’s because you’re not from here. See not only do most die-hard NYers eat Jewish/Eastern European food, we speak Yiddish without even paying attention to it. Jewish deli food is friggin’ good – bagels with a schmear, lean pastrami on rye with mustard, knishes – the list goes on and on. The words are just as awesome and they pretty much mean exactly what they sound like.

See, for years and years, NY was full of fresh off the boat Eastern European Jewish immigrants. You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone named Goldberg or Levine or Schwartz. Just as their yummy foods became part of what is New York, so did a lot of their language. It makes me sad that I meet so many people here who don’t know what a schmo is. Oy vey! What? You don’t know this word? What did I do to you that you don’t know this word? You’re killing, me. You know that, right?

So, here is a small list of good Yiddish/New Yorky words to know. If you’re from here, you probably use them more often than you think.

yutz, putz, schmuck – idiot

schmutz – dirt

schnook – a dopey person you can easily con if you wanted too

schnoz – a nose, especially a large nose

schtick – a comedy routine

shpiel – sales pitch

tchotchke – knick knacks, those dust collecting things on your shevles

tush / tukhus – your butt (or maybe someone else’s)

verklempt – all choked up with emotion

chutzpah – guts, nerve, audacity

klutz – clumsy person

schlong – don’t tell me you don’t know what this is 😉

yenta – gossipy woman, a woman who tells everybody everyone else’s business

noodge – nag

farkakta – screwed up

nosh – a bite to eat

schvitz, schvitzing – sweat, sweating

bagel, knish, latke – really? I need to tell you?

schmeer – cream cheese

schmoozing – talking about nothing important

lox – the smoked salmon you put on your bagel with cream cheese

bupkis – nothing, as in “I’ve got bupkis.”

shiksa – a non Jewish girl, such as myself. It’s a derogatory term, but whatever, I’ve been called worse.

This list is probably rather small, if you have any to add, please do 🙂


This entry was posted in New York Things and Stuff and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Am I Jewish or Just from New York?

  1. Pingback: Elsewhere « Visualingual

  2. Susan says:

    Don’t forget kvetch – to complain

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