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Welcome To The Bitchery

Hey there, Gentiles. So, we understand you like borrowing our Yiddish terms in spicing up your (mostly angry) sentences. And who can blame you? Who wouldn't want to swear in Yiddish?! Communists, that's who! Dirty, filthy Communists. With bacne.

It is, of course, completely cool with us Jews if you want to use these terms. Feel free to do so as much as you like! Go nuts! We're not proprietary or anything. Hell, at a restaurant where I worked, I once convinced one of the dishwashers, who literally did not speak a word of English, to swear in Yiddish. This led to sentences like, "Mucho vici es fakakta," and I pretty much consider this achievement to be the greatest thing I have ever done/will ever do.

But the thing is, sometimes you guys get them wrong - either the meaning, or (actually, more commonly) the pronunciation. Which, I mean...you can, if you want, I guess, you just make us facepalm and giggle to ourselves when you do it. So, with that in mind, I figured I'd write a quick guide to swearing in Yiddish, with common terms you can sprinkle into your own sentences to your heart's content. Here is a list of terms you should feel free to use, along with the correct pronunciations (hint: it helps if you have a head cold).

By the way, I fully acknowledge that different sources have slightly different definitions for which Yiddish words mean what in particular (though the pronunciations generally stay the same) - this is because the Jewish diaspora was such that different words in different areas took on slightly different meanings even within the same general context of the Yiddish language. My primary source is my now-deceased Grandmother, who actually did speak this language growing up (as well as my Grandfather, who knew bits and pieces). Thus, this has more of a Polish Jew slant to it than, say, Russian, Ukrainian, or German. In general, even if the meaning is slightly different, the connotation will be the same (so, for example, calling someone a "schmuck" is never a positive).

Also note that I have deliberately skipped the terms that double as ethnic/gay slurs, because you should have no reason to want to use those. There are also probably misogynistic terms in Yiddish, but the last Jewish man who used one, in 1847, lived to sorely regret his error - thus, they have not been passed on.

Shtup (SHTUHP) - To have sex with. The connotation is the "four-letter word" kind. Generally most of the words on this list that start with "sh" are going to have the emphasis on that syllable.
Shmuck (SHMUCK) - Penis. All of them. Every last one of these following terms. I'll let you know when we've reached the end of the cavalcade of dicks.
Putz (PUHTZ) - ""
Schmeckel (SHMEH-cull) - ""
Schlong (SH-long) - ""
Schvantz (SH-vontz) - ""
Petzl (PET-zull) - ""
Fakakta (fuh-COCK-tah) - "Fucked up" (hey, look, we've exited the magical forest of dongs!). This is my personal favorite term on this list. Goes very well with the modifier "all," as in, "the Senate's filibustering procedure is all fakakta."
Alta Kaka (AL-ta COCK-ah) - Literally, "old shit." Weirdly, not hugely derogatory in common usage (typically used to refer to senior citizens in general), but that's Yiddish for you; even the words we don't intend to be offensive have that soupcon of a linguistic middle finger to them.
Kvetch (KVETCH) - To complain/a complainer. I spent my entire childhood being referred to by this term. Then again, so did a lot of Jewish kids.
Shmegegge (shmuh-GEH-gee) - A jerk. My other favorite, since very few people use it and it's the silliest-sounding word I have ever heard, narrowly edging out "periwinkle." I've heard some variants on the definition of this one, but I'm going with my Grandfather here, who loved the living hell out of this word and was adamant that the closest comparable term in modern English was "jerk."
Plotz (PLOTZ) - To become so overwrought that you are going to figuratively explode. "I'm going to plotz" is a fairly common term among old Jewish grandmothers. Oddly, this can be used both as a positive ("If I laugh any harder I'll plotz") and as a negative ("If these grandkids don't stop running around and shut the hell up I'm going to plotz").
Shlemiel (shlah-MEEL) / Schlimazl (shlih-MAHZ-ull) - There's some disagreement over what these two terms actually mean, and which one means which. Some sources pin one as "an unlucky person," basically someone who the universe constantly craps on, while the other is a klutz (also a Yiddish word originally, but common enough that there's no point in putting it on this list). Since Yiddish is largely a dead language, feel free to use them interchangeably towards either meaning.
Goyim (GOY-im) - Non-Jews; a less polite version of "gentile." Whether or not this term is considered offensive is entirely dependent on who you talk to (and probably also the particular usage).
Verklempt (ver-KLEMPT) - To get choked up. Even Jews laugh at how silly this word sounds.
Ferschnicket (feh-SHNICK-it) - Drunk off your ass. Like, Purim-level drunk. Have you ever seen those "please drink responsibly" commercials? Yeah, "Purim-level drunk" could be defined as "the diametric opposite of those commercials." Our actual religious texts tell us to get so drunk for one day a year that we can't tell the difference between a man and a woman. I'm not making that up; you can look it up, the book says that in those exact words. Purim-level drunk is not for amateurs.
Oy Vey (OY VAY) - This one is tricky to translate. The general idea of what this means is just a creative way of saying, "UGH," as in response to an article written by an MRA. Generally only said in a put-upon tone of voice.
Oy Gevalt (OY gee-VAULT) - As above, although the way my grandmother used to say it the connotation changed to something with a bevy of four-letter words. Generally said when something is REALLY annoying and "Oy vey" doesn't cut it as an exclamation of how irritated you are.
Tuches (TOOK-us) - Ass. This one's weird, because it's taken on a much less offensive connotation in modern English usage (although I guess that's not that weird, since modern English is way more polite than Yiddish ever was).
Shmendrick (SHMEN-drick) - A weak person - generally, this term is used to belittle someone for being physically small.
Shep Naches (SHEP NAK-us) - To derive pleasure from something. My grandmother used to swear that this literally meant "to shit joy," although she may have just been fucking with me.
Shlock (SHLOCK) - Cheaply-made crap. You know, like the Republican Party's platform OH HO HO I'M SUCH A KIDDER.
Pisher (PISH-er) - Literally a "bed-wetter," though it can also be used to refer to someone who is inexperienced or unimportant. Often preceded by the word "little."

Advanced Course:

If you really want to go the full Yiddish mile, LaComtesse shared a sentence that I had never heard, but that is unspeakably wonderful (let me know if I got any of the pronunciation wrong, Comtesse):

As di bubbe volt gehat beytsim volt zi gevain mayn zaidah (AS DEH BUH-bee VOLT ge-HAT BAYT-sihm VOLT ZEH ge-VAYN MAY-n ZAY-deh) - "If my grandmother had balls she would be my grandfather." In context, used as a sarcastic response if someone says something like, "I'd be a great model if I was 5 inches taller and 30 lbs lighter." We're a very sarcastic people.

Feel free to comment with words I missed.


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