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.
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