Glossary of Yiddish Words & Phrases

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Yiddish is a hybrid language and takes much of its vocabulary from medieval German and Hebrew, but with a smattering of words from Aramaic, Slavic and Romance languages as well. Many of the words come from the specific cultures within Central and Eastern Europe.

Yiddish has a structure all its own. While the language is based on a mixture of Hebrew and medieval German, its alphabet is based on the Hebrew alphabet. The rules of Yiddish are not the same as either of the parent languages.

Yiddish went through a decline in popularity over the past 100 years but has found a resurgence in recent times and is taught at several prominent universities around the world. Next time you use a word of Yiddish origin, remember that you are speaking a foreign language.


Um-be-rufen – Unqualified, uncalled for; God forbid; (A deprecation to ward off the evil eye)
Um-be-shrien – God forbid!  It shouldn’t happen!
Umgeduldik – Petulant
Ummeglich! – Impossible!
Umglick – A misfortune; (masc) A born loser; an unlucky one
Umshteller – Braggart
Umzist – For nothing
Umzitztiger fresser – free loader, especially one who shows up only to eat (and EAT!)


Unger bluzen – Bad mood. Swollen with anger.
Ungerissen beheiman – A totally stupid person. Lit., an untamed animal. Not wild, just dumb.
Un langeh hakdomes! – Cut it short! (lit., Without a long introduction)
Unter fir oygn – Privately
Unterkoifen – To bribe
Untershmeichlen – To butter up
Untervelt mentsh – Racketeer
Untn – Below
Utz – To goad, to needle


Vahksin zuls du vi a tsibeleh, mitten kup in drerd – May you grow like an onion, with your head in the ground!
Vahksin zuls du, tsu gezunt, tsu leben, tsu langeh yor – May you grow to health, to life, to long years. (Each may me said when someone sneezes)
Vai! – Woe, pain; usually appears as “oy vai!”
Vai is mir! – Woe is me!
Vai vind iz meine yoren – “Woe is me!”
Vais ich vos – Stuff and nonsense!  Says you! (Lit., Know from what)
Vaitik – An ache
Valgeren zich – Wander around aimlessly
Valgerer – Homeless wanderer
Vaneh – Bath, bathtub
Vannit – Where (from) “Fon vannit kimmt ihr?” (Where do you come from?)
Vantz – Bedbug; (slang) a nobody
Varenikehs – Round shaped noodle dough stuffed with meat, potato, etc. and fried
Varfen an oyg – To look out for; to guard; to mind (Lit., To throw an eye at)
Varnishkes – Kasha and noodles
Vart! – Wait! Hold on!
Vash-tsimmer – Bathroom, washroom
Vash-tsimmer far froyen – Ladie’s room
Vash-tsimmer far menner – Men’s room
Vayt fun di oygn,vayt fun hartsn – Far from the eyes, far from the heart. Equivalent to “Out of sight, out of mind.”
Vechter – Watchman
Veibernik – Debauchee
Veibershe shtiklach – Female tricks
Veis vi kalech! – Pale as a sheet!
Vek-zaiger – Alarm clock
Vemen barestu? – (taboo) Whom are you kidding? (Lit., Whom are you screwing?)
Vemen narstu? – Whom are you fooling?
Ver derharget! – Get killed!  Drop dead! (Also “ver geharget)
Ver dershtikt! – Choke yourself!
Ver farblondjet! – Get lost!  Go away!
Verklempt – Extremely emotional.  On the verge of tears. (See “Farklempt”)
Ver tsuzetst – “Go to hell” (or its equivalent)
Ver vaist? – Who knows?


Ver volt dos gegleybt? – Who would have believed it?
Veren a tel – To be ruined
Veren ferherret – To get married
Vi a barg – Large as a mountain
Vi der ruach zogt gut morgen – Where the devil says good morning! (has many meanings; usually appended to another phrase)
Vi gait dos gesheft? – How’s business?
Vi gait es eich? – How goes it with you? How are you? How are you doing?
Vi gaits? – How goes it? How are things? How’s tricks?
Vi haistu? – What’s your name?
Vi ruft men…? – What is the name of…?
Vi ruft men eich? – What is your name?
Viazoy? – How come?
Vie Chavele tsu der geht – Literally: Like Chavele on her way to her divorce; meaning “all spruced up.”
Vifil? – How much?
Vilder mentsh – A wild one; a wild person
Vilder chaiah – Wild animal or out of control child or adult
Vilstu – Do you want…
Vo den? – What else?
Voglen – To wander around aimlessly
Voiler yung! – Roughneck (sarcastic expression)
Voncin – Bed bug
Vortshpiel – Pun, witticism
Vos art es (mich)? – What does it matter (to me)? What do I care?
Vos barist du? – (taboo) What are you screwing around for? What are you fooling around for?
Vos bei a nichteren oyfen lung, is bei a shikkeren oyfen tsung. – What a sober man has on his lung (mind), a drunk has on his tongue. 
Vos draistu mir a kop? – What are you bothering me for? (Lit., Why are you twisting my head?)
Vos failt zai? – What are they lacking?
Vos gicher, alts besser – The faster, the better
Vos hakst du mir in kop? – What are you talking my head off for?
Vos hert zich? – What do you hear around? What’s up?
Vos hert zich epes nei-es? – What’s new?


Vos heyst – what does it mean?

Vos hob ich dos gedarft? – What did I need it for?

Vos-in-der-kort – Capable of doing anything bad (applied to bad person; Lit., everything in the cards)

Vos iz? – What’s the matter?

Vos iz ahfen kop, iz ahfen tsung! – What’s on his mind is on his tongue!

Vos iz der chil’lek? – What difference does it make?

Vos iz der tachlis? – What’s the purpose? Where does it lead to? 

Vos iz di chochmeh? – What is the trick?

Vos iz di untershteh shureh? – What’s the point? What’s the outcome? (Lit., What on the bottom line?)

Vos iz mit dir? – What’s wrong with you?

Vos kocht zich in teppel? – What’s cooking?

Vos macht a yid? – How’s it going?

Vos macht vos oys? – What difference does it make?

Vos macht es mir oys? – What difference does it make to me?

Vos macht ir? – How are you? (pl.); How do you do?

Vos Machstu? – How are you? (singular)

Vos maint es? – What does it mean?

Vos noch? – What else? What then?

Vos ret ir epes? – What are you talking about?

Vos tut zich? – What’s going on? What’s cooking?

Vos vet zein – What will be

Vos vet zein, vet zein! – What will be, will be!

Vos zogt ir? – What are you saying?

Vu tut dir vai? – Where does it hurt?

Vus du vinsht mir, vinsh ikh dir. – What you wish me, I wish you.

Vuhin gaitsu? – Where are you going?

Vund – Wound

Vursht – Bologna

Vyzoso – Idiot (named after youngest son of Haman, archenemy of Jews in Book of esther); also, penis


Wen der tati/fater gibt men tsu zun, lachen baiden.  Wen der zun gibt men tsu tati/fater, vainen baiden. – When the father gives to his son, both laugh.  When the son gives to the father, both cry.


Wen ich ess, ch’ob ich alles in dread. – (Lit. When I am eating, I have everything in the ground.) When I am eating, everybody can go to hell!


Yachneh – A coarse, loud-mouthed woman; a gossip; a slattern
Yachsen – Man of distinguished lineage, highly connected person, privileged character
Yarmelkeh – Traditional Jewish skull cap, usually worn during prayers; worn at all times by observant Orthodox Jews.
Yahrtzeit – Anniversary of the day of death of a loved-one.
Yashir koyech – May your strength continue
Yatebedam – A man who threatens; one who thinks he’s a “big shot”; a blusterer
Yedies – News; cablegrams; announcements
Yefayfiyeh – Beauty; woman of great beauty
Yenems – Someone else’s; (the brand of cigarettes moochers smoke!)


Yeneh velt – The other world; the world to come
Yenteh – Gabby, talkative woman; female blabbermouth
Yente telebente – Mrs. National Enquirer
Yentzen (taboo) – To fornicate, to whore
Yeshiveh – Jewish traditional higher school, talmudical academy
Yeshiveh bocher – Student of talmudic academy
Yeshuvnik – Farmer, rustic
Yichus – Pedigree, ancestry, family background, nobility
Yiddisher kop – Jewish head
Yiddishkeit – Having to do with all things relating to Jewish culture.
Yingeh tsats-keh! – A young doll! A living doll!
Yiskor – Prayer in commemoration of the dead (Lit., May God remember.)


Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement (the most holy of holy days of the Jewish calendar)
Yontefdik – Festive, holiday-ish; sharp (referring to clothes)
Yortseit – Anniversary of the day of death of parents or relatives; yearly remembrance
Yoysher – Justice, fairness, integrity
Yukel – Buffoon
(A) Yung mit bainer! – A powerhouse! Strongly built person
Yung un alt – Young and old
Yungatsh – Street-urchin, scamp, young rogue
Yungermantshik – A young, vigorous lad; A newlywed
Yusoimeh – OrphanXXX


Zaft – Juice
Zaftik – Pleasantly plump and pretty. Sensuous looking (Lit., juicy)
Zaftikeh moid! – Sexually attractive girl
Zaideh – Grandfather
Zaier gut – O.K. (Lit., very good)
Zaier shain gezogt! – Well said! (Lit., Very beautifully said!)
Zee est vee a feigele – She eats like a bird
Zeh nor, zeh nor! Look here, look here!
Zei (t) gezunt – Be well! Goodbye! Farewell
Zei mir frailich! – Be Happy!
Zei mir gezunt! – Be well!
Zei mir matriach – Be at pains to… Please; make an effort.
Zei nit a nar! – Don’t be a fool!
Zei nit kain vyzoso! – Don’t be an idiot!  Don’t be a damn fool!
Zeit azoy gut – Please (Lit., Be so good)
Zeit ir doch ahfen ferd! – You’re all set! (Lit., You’re on the horse!)
Zeit (mir) moychel – Excuse me! Be so good as…Forgive me!
Zelig – Blessed (used mostly among German Jews in recalling a beloved deceased —– mama zelig)
Zeltenkeit – Rare thing
Zetz – Shove, push, bang! Also slang for a sexual experience (taboo)
Zhaleven – To be sparing, miserly
Zhlob – A jerk; slob, uncouth
Zhu met (mir) in kop – A buzzing in one’s (mind) head
Zhulik – Faker
Zi farmacht nit dos moyl – She doesn’t stop talking (Lit., She doesn’t close her mouth)


Zindik nit – Don’t complain. Don’t tempt the Gods.
Zingen – To sing
Ziseh neshomeh – Sweet soul
Ziseh raidelech – Sweet talk
Ziskeit – Sweetness, sweetheart, (Also endearing term for a child)
Zitsen ahf shpilkes – Sitting on pins and needles; to fidget
Zitsen shiveh – Sit in mourning (Shiveh means 7 which is the number of days in the period of mourning
Zitsflaish – Patience (Lit., Sitting meat)
Zog a por verter – Say a few words!
Zogen a ligen – Tell a lie
Zogerkeh – Woman who leads the prayers in the women’s section in the synagogue
Zoineh – Prostitute
Zok nit kin vey – Don’t worry about it (Lit: Do not say woe)
Zol dich chapen beim boych. – You should get a stomach cramp!
Zol dir klappen in kop! – It should bang in your head (the way it is bothering me!)
Zol er tsebrechen a fus! – May he break a leg! He should break a leg!
Zol es brennen! – The hell with it! (Lit., Let it burn!)
Zol Got mir helfen!- May God help me!
Zol Got ophiten! – May God prevent!
Zol ich azoy vissen fun tsores! – I haven’t got the faintest idea! (Lit., I should so know from trouble as I know about this!)
Zol makekhs voxen offen tsung! – Pimples should grow on your tongue!
Zol vaksen tzibbelis fun pipek! – Onions should grow from your bellybutton!


Zol ze vaksen ze ve a tsibble mit de kopin dreid – You should grow like an onion with your head in the ground.
Zol zein! – Let it be! That’s all!
Zol zein azoy! – O.K.! Let it be so!
Zol zein gezunt! – Be well! 
Zol zein mit glik! – Good luck!
Zol zein shah! – Be quiet. Shut up!!
Zol zein shtil! – Silence! Let’s have some quiet!
Zolst geshvollen veren vi a barg! – You should swell up like a mountain!
Zolst helfen vi a toyten bankes – It helps like like cupping helps a dead person.
Zolst hobn tzen haizer, yeder hoiz zol hobn tzen tzimern, in yeder tzimer zoln zain tzen betn un zolst zij kaiklen fun ein bet in der tzweiter mit cadojes! – I wish you to have ten houses, each house with ten rooms, each room with ten beds and you should roll from one bed to the other with cholera. (not a very nice thing to say.)
Zolst leben un zein gezunt! – You should live and be well!
Zolst ligen in drerd! – Drop dead! (Lit., You should lie in the earth!)
Zolst nit vissen fun kain shlechts. – You shouldn’t know from evil.
Zolst es shtipin in toches! – (taboo) Shove it up your rectum!
Zolst zein vi a lomp-am tug sollst di hangen, in der nacht sollst di brennen – You should be like a lamp, you should hang during the day and burn during the night!
Zolstu azoy laiben! – You should live so!
Zorg zich nit! – Don’t worry!
Zuninkeh! – Dear son! Darling son!
My Yiddishe Bubbie

Toy Vey Toys
5400 Eadom Street, W-23
Bridesburg, PA 19137
Attn: Bubbie

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