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10 Words New Yorkers Use Without Realizing They’re Yiddish

Rob Grams Rob Grams

10 Words New Yorkers Use Without Realizing They’re Yiddish

Originally only spoken by Eastern European Jews, Yiddish has found its way into the vocabulary of many New Yorkers. Originating from German, Hebrew and the Slavic languages, these Yiddish words can be heard echoing down the streets and halls of NYC, in common use by NYC residents, without ever knowing their Yiddish origin. Here are some of our favorites.

1. shlep

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To Shlep is to carry or drag something unwillingly. To “shlep around” is to carry oneself around unwillingly.

2. glitch


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a minor malfunction

3 & 4. shlemiel and Klutz


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A clumsy, inept person.

5. shmooze


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To make small talk about nothing in particular. In recent years we’ve started to use the word to indicate we’re talking to people we’re trying to impress

6. schlock


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Cheap or inferior. For example “I read SecretNYC, not those other schlocky NYC blogs.” 😉

7. schlong


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Penis. There we said it. It means penis.

8. spiel


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A spiel is most commonly used to describe a long winded sales pitch.

9. schmuck


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A deplorable or foolish person.

10. shtik


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Something you’re known for, an entertainers gimmick.

Featured image source [Alan Skyy | Flickr]

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