36 Yiddish Phrases Everyone Should Know
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36 Yiddish Phrases Everyone Should Know

Allow me to enrich your vocabulary.

36 Yiddish Phrases Everyone Should Know


It's me, your friendly neighborhood Jew. Like most American Jews today, I do not speak the entire Yiddish language. However, I do know a few phrases and they're delightful; so, I've decided to share them with the Gentile world. It'll also help people understand what I'm saying. Please note that spelling are mostly approximations/transliterations, and will vary from person to person.

Without further ado, allow me to enrich your vocabulary.

1. Chutzpah

Chutzpah is probably the most well-known Jewish/Yiddish concept. Chutzpah is difficult to translate directly, but the best I've heard is probably "sheer nerve." Chutzpah can be a good thing or a bad thing, but there usually is a level of shock or admiration associated with it.

2. Kismet

The Yiddish concept of fate.

3. Goy/Goyim

Non-Jew(s). Goy is singular and goyim is plural.

4. Bubbe

Bubble means grandmother.

5. Bubbelah

Not to be confused with bubbe, bubbelah is term of endearment, usually for someone significantly younger like a child or grandchild.

6. Zayde


7. L'Chaim

A toast, literally meaning "to life."

8. Frum

Modest clothing or lifestyle.

9. Yid

An outdated term for a Jewish person.

10. Kibbutz

An Israeli farming commune.

11. Kvetch

To complain.

12. Futz

To twitch.

13. Schlep

To drag a bunch of stuff.

14. Schmutz

Dirt, a smudge.

15. (The whole) Megila

An expression meaning a very long or complete story.

16. Shtel

The communities that Jews in eastern Europe lived in. Unallowed to live in the villages with Gentiles, Jews lived in Shtels that were separate from the regular towns.

17. Schmatta

A rag.

18. Chai

Literally means life.

19. Kashrus/Kashrut

Kosher, permissible.

20. Maven

Someone who is very good at something.

21. Mazel Tov

Literally means good luck but used to say congradulations.

22. Yenta

A gossipy person or someone who likes to play matchmaker.

23. Nu


24. Oy


25. Shande

A shame.

26. Challah

A braided egg-dough bread, eaten on many Jewish occasions.

27. Daven

To pray.

28. Kvell

To be proud.

29. Mesuganah


30. Bissel

A little bit.

31. Nosh

To eat.

32. Mensch

A good person.

33. Shul

Another word for synagogue.

34. Michpacha


35. Oneg

A luncheon eaten after a service.

36. Simcha

A happy event.

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