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Yiddish Glossary

We love to sprinkle our website and emails with fun Yiddish words; they help describe like no English words we know of. For example, don’t you think “plotz” is so much more descriptive than “burst with surprise?” Or what better way to say the “behind” than “tush” or “tuchas?”

Here are some of our favorite Yiddish words and phrases:

  • Balaboosta: A great Jewish mama, who does it all—cooks, cleans, kids, etc.
  • Bubbe: A Jewish Grandma who embraces Jewish culture and stereotypes
  • Bubbelah: an endearing term for someone you love
  • Dreck: crap, worse then schlock
  • Fress: eat
  • Heymish: homey, down to earth, no frills, just right
  • Kibbitz: chat in a fun and light hearted way
  • Kvell: to swoon with happiness and pride, “I’m kvelling over my son’s accomplishments”
  • Maven: an expert “Jane is a challah maven”
  • Mazel: luck
  • Mazel Tov: Congratulations
  • Mensch: a genuinely nice person “What a mensch, that son of yours”
  • Meshugge: crazy in a loving way “he is meshugge”
  • Naches: Joy
  • Nosh: eat, in a grazing sort of way
  • Nu?: “so what’s new?” “what are you waiting for?”
  • Oy, Oy Vey, Oy Gevalt: “Oh No!” All versions mean the same. Oy and Oy Vey are shortened versions of Oy Gevalt
  • Plotz: shocked, surprised “I am plotzing over the new car you bought me” Refers to either happy or sad occasion/event
  • Schlep: carry heavy stuff, unhappily
  • Schlock: crap, garbage “the stuff at that tag sale is all schlock”
  • Simcha: Happy occasion
  • Tuchas: tushy, tush
  • Yiddishe Mama: a Jewish mother
  • Zaftig: fat or chubby in a loving/lovely sort of way

Want to learn even more Yiddish and laugh a lot too? Yiddish with Dick and Jane, Oy Vey, it's a lesson like no other!