YWOTD: Shmendrik, Shmendrek, Schmendrick

How do we call someone “a jerk” or “a stupid person” or “a fool” in Yiddish? For the answer, continue reading.

From The Yiddish Handbook: 40 Words You Should Know, we find:
28. shmendrik
A jerk, a stupid person, popularized in The Last Unicorn and Welcome Back Kotter.

This yiddish word is found not once, but twice, in the listing on the webpage Common Yiddish Terms in American English.
In the first occurrence of this Yiddish word, it is spelled as shmendrek in the column label of term, the definition column translates it as jerk; however, then the word is spelled differently in the sample use column that has the sentence “He’s a real schmendrick.”
The second occurrence has the word spelled as shmendrik, translated as fool, and with the sample use sentence “The kid is a real schmendrick”

Over at Slang-Dictionary.com, we find this:
schmendrick, Definition, noun American, a foolish or clumsy nonentity. A Yiddish word which is used by Jews and non-Jews alike in American speech. Shmendrik was a character in an operetta by Abraham Goldfaden.
ref: slang-dictionary/ definition/schmendrick

Who you calling a schmendrick?


About Roland Louis Hansen

I have been: an organization development consultant; a college-level instructor of political science, psychology, and sociology; a public administrator; a social worker; an elected official; a political operative; a community activist; a union official; a shoe salesman and manager, a factory worker; a fast food restaurant employee; and, a custodian.
This entry was posted in Communication, Jewish, Language, Websites, YWOTD (Yiddish Word Of The Day) ייִדיש. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to YWOTD: Shmendrik, Shmendrek, Schmendrick

  1. Tim Higgins says:

    My Yiddish being horrible, the only time I feel safe using this term is very occasionally … when looking in the mirror.


  2. Judy says:

    I know a few Schmendriks who are also Smucks and that’s no shtick!


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