amc-title.gif (2988 bytes)


Yiddish is the language of the Jewish people of Europe. It's origin is found in the waves of Jewish people who migrated from the Middle East to Europe during the years spanning 700 - 1000 C.E. They initially settled in an area of Germany called Ashkenaz, picked up the local Germanic language but wrote it out using Hebrew characters. Thus the Yiddish language consists of three basic components:
Old German 80%, Hebrew 10%, and Slavic and other tongues 10%.

There are other languages developed by Jewish people in specific localities. Best known is "Ladino", the language of many Jews who lived in southern Europe (Spain, Greece, Italy, etc), the Middle East and North Africa. It is mostly medieval Spanish written in Hebrew characters. Jewish people from these areas who speak Ladino are known as "Sephardim".

From "Encarta":
Yiddish is a highly plastic and assimilative language, rich in idioms, and possessing remarkable freshness, pithiness, and pungency. Since it was spoken by ordinary people rather than by scholars, its vocabulary is weak in abstractions.
It has a wealth of words and expressions descriptive of character and of relations among people. It makes liberal use of diminutives and terms of endearment and exhibits a variety of expletives. The use of proverbs and proverbial expressions is considerable. These qualities and usages give Yiddish a uniquely warm and personal flavor.
In the early years of the 20th century Yiddish was spoken by an estimated 11 million people living mainly in eastern Europe and the U.S. The use of the language has been declining since then. The initial cause was the extermination of the Jewish communities in Poland and other eastern European countries during World War II. An important factor that also contributed to the decline in usage was the adaptation by Jews to the languages predominant in the United States and in the Soviet Union.
In Israel the Hebrew language is predominant, and Yiddish is a second language, cultivated largely by members of the older generation who have an eastern European background; only a few modern Israeli poets write in Yiddish. In an effort to ensure its preservation, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem teaches Yiddish, as do certain American schools and colleges.
Contributed by: Nahum Norbert Glatzer "Yiddish Language," Microsoft (R) Encarta.
Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation. Copyright (c) 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation

All 4 of my Grandparents were from Jewish communities in eastern Europe and spoke Yiddish as their 'Mama-Loshan' (mother-tounge). As both Grandmothers continued to speak mostly Yiddish, my parents understood Yiddish well, but would answer in English. I grew up hearing many Yiddish words in our house, and so have a warm feeling for this expressive language, even though my own vocabulary is limited. And so, with affection, I present this list of common Yiddish words, many of which have found their way into current use in American English, especially around certain neighborhoods in New York !  May it's use continue in our Messianic Jewish Community !
                                                                                                      Mottel Baleston

BALEBOOSTEH (feminine) - an excellent and praise worthy homemaker, Baleboss is the masculine, the head of the household, owner of a store, one who assumes authority

BISSELE - a little bit

BUBBE-MYSEH - old wives tale; nonsense; something patently silly and untrue

BOPKES/ BUBKES - something trivial, worthless, absurd, foolish, nonsensical

BROCHA - blessing; a prayer of thanksgiving and praise

BUBEE, BUBELEH - affectionate term of endearment, is widely used for darling, dear child, honey, sweetheart, good friend

BUBBE - grandmother

CHUTZPA - brazen nerve, gall, self-centered boldness, incredible guts, moxie

EPPES - a little something. A somebody

FARMISHT - confused, befuddled

FEH - an exclamation of disgust

GANTSE MAGILLAH - a whole big story

GELT - money

GEVALT - a cry of fear, astonishment, trouble, a cry for help.

GOYIM - a Gentile, anyone who is not Jewish

KIBBITZ - to chat, joke, light conversation

KINDER, KINDERLACH - children, little children

KLUTZ - clumsy, graceless person

KVETCH - to complain, a chronic complainer, fuss, fret

MENCH - a human being, upright, honorable, decent person, someone to admire

MISHPOCHEH - family, including relatives

NACHES - proud pleasure, special joy particularly from the achievement of a child

OY - pain, a lament, a protest, a cry of dismay ,a reflex of delight. The most expressive exclamation in Yiddish.

- 'oh pain', but it's an all purpose expression from minor iritation to abysmal woe.

PLOTZ - to burst , to explode, to be aggravated beyond bearing

POTCH - a slap, a smack and insult, a blow to one's pride, a setback to one's hopes

PUSHKE - the little can or container kept in the home in which money is to be donated.
Usually, a charitable organization would provide its own pushke.

SEYCHEL - common sense, wisdom, good judgment

SCHMALTZ - 1. cooking fat-usually chicken  2. overly emotional mush, luxury, wealth, fancy

SHMOOZ - friendly talk, heart-to heart prolonged talk.

SHLEP - to drag, or pull


SHUL - Synagogue or School

TSIMMES - 1. a side dish of mixed cooked vegetables slightly sweetened, usually carrots,
prunes, sweet potatoes  2. A prolonged procedure, involved business, a mix-up, troubles

TSURIS - problems, trouble, grief, aggravation or heartache.

TUCHUS - your bottom, buttocks. By the 1940's, a slang version in use was 'tushee',
  which later was shortened to 'tush', now in regular use throughout American culture,
  thanks to Jewish film makers.  Now, aren't you glad you've read this far down ?!!

TUMMEL - noise, commotion, noisy disorder

YENTA - a female gossiper

ZAYDE - Grandfather, or an old man

ZETZ - a strong blow or punch

This page is from the website of The Association of Messianic Congregations
We believe in Moses, the Prophets and Yeshua the Messiah !!

Return to  MAIN PAGE