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.


Gai avek! – Go away
Gai feifen ahfen yam! – Go peddle your fish elsewhere!
Gai gezunterhait! – Go in good health
Gai in drerd arein! – Go to hell!
Gai kaken oifen yam! – Get lost (Lit: Go shit in the ocean!)
Gai mit dein kop in drerd – “Go with your head in the ground.”  “Stick your head in the mud”
Gai platz! – Go split your guts!
Gai shlog dein kup en vant! – Go bang your head against the wall
Gai shoyn, gai. – Scram! also, Don’t be silly!
Gai strasheh di vantzen – You don’t frighten me! (Lit., Go threaten the bed bugs)
Gai tren zich. (taboo) – Go fuck yourself
Gait, gait! – Come now!
Gait es nit! – It doesn’t work!
Galitsianer – Jewish native of Galicia
Gants gut – Very good
Gantseh K’nacker! – “Big Shot”
Gantseh Macher – “Big shot.”
Gantseh megilleh – Big deal! (derisive)
Gantseh mentsh – Manly, a whole man, a complete man; an adult; a fellow who assumes airs
Gatkes – Long winter underwear
Geben shoychad – To bribe
Gebentsht mit kinder – Blessed with children
Gebentshte boych – Literally-blesses stomach (womb) (Said of a lady with a fabulous child or children,
Gebrenteh tsores – Utter misery
Gebrochener english – Fractured English
Gedainkst? – Remember?
Gedempte flaysh – Mystery meat
Gedicht – Thick, full, ample
Geferlech – Dangerous
Geharget zolstu veren! – Drop dead! (Lit., You should get killed.)
Gelaimter – Person who drops whatever he touches
Gelibteh – Beloved
Gelt – Money


Gelt gait tzu gelt. – Money goes to money.
Gelt is nisht kayn dayge – Money is not a problem.
Gembeh! – Big mouth!
Gemitlich – Slowly, unhurried, gently
Genaivisheh shtiklech – Tricky, sharp, crooked actions or doings
Genevishe oigen – Shifty eyes
Genug iz genug. – Enough is enough!
Gesheft – Business
Geshmak – Tasty, delicious
Geshtorben – The state of being dead.
Geshtroft – Cursed, accursed; punished
Geshvollen – Swollen, puffed up (Also applied to person with haughty pride)
Get – Divorce
Getchke – Statue
Gevaldikeh Zach! – A terrible thing! (often ironically)
Gevalt! – Heaven Forbid!  (Exclamatory in the extreme.)
Gevalt geshreeyeh – good grief (“help” screamed)
Gezunde tzores – Healthy troubles.  Troubles one should not take too seriously.
Gezunt vi a ferd – Strong as a horse
Gezunteh moid! – Brunhilde, a big healthy dame
Gezunterhait – In good health
Gib mir nit kain einorah! – Don’t give me a canary! (Americanism, Lit., Don’t give me an evil eye)
Gib zich a traisel – Get a move on
Gib zich a shukl – Hurry up! (Give yourself a shake)
Gitte neshomah – good soul
Gleichvertel – Wisecrack, pun, saying, proverb, bon mot, witticism
Glezel tai – Glass of tea
Glezel varms – comforting or soothing (Lit: Glass of warmth)
Glick – Luck, piece of luck
Gloib mir! – Believe me!
Glustiyah – Enema
G’nossen tsum emess! – The sneeze confirmed the truth!


Goldeneh chasseneh – Fiftieth wedding anniversary

Goniff –  Crook, thief, burglar, swindler, racketeer

Gopel – Fork

Gornisht – Nothing

Gornisht Helfin – Nothing will help

Got in himmel! – G-d in heaven! (said in anguish, despair, fear or frustration)

Got tsu danken – Thank G-d

Got zol ophiten! – G-d forbid!

Gote-Vorte – A good piece of information or short concise Torahy commentary.

Gotteniu! – Oh G-d! (anguished cry)

Goy – Any person who is not Jewish

Goyeh – Gentile woman

Goyim – Group of non-Jewish persons

Goyishe kop – Opposite of Yiddishe kop.  Generally used to indicate someone who is not particularly smart or shrewd.  (Definitely offensive.)

Greps – Blech; a burp if it’s a mild one

Grob – Coarse, crude, profane, rough, rude

Grober – Coarse, uncouth, crude person

Grober finger – Thumb

Grois-halter – Show-off, conceited person

Groisseh gedilleh! – Big deal! (said sarcastically)

Groisser gornisht – Big good-for-nothing

Groisser potz! (taboo) – Big penis! Big prick! (derogatory or sarcastic)

Grooten – To take after, to favour.

Groyser finger – Middle finger

Guggle muggle – A concoction made of warm milk and honey for sore throats

Gunsel – A young goose. Also used to describe a young man who accompanies a tramp or a young tramp.

Gut far him! – Serves him right!

Gut gezugt – Well said

Gut Shabbos – Good Sabbath

Gut Yontif – Happy Holiday

G’vir – Rich man


Haimish ponem – A friendly face
Haiseh vanneh – Hot bath
Haissen – To hate
Haken a chainik – Boring, long-winded and annoying conversation; talking for the sake of talking (Lit., To bang on the tea-kettle)
Hak flaish – Chopped meat
Hak mir nit in kop! – Stop bending my ear (Lit.; Stop banging on my head)
Hak mir nit kayn chainik (arain) – Don’t get on my nerves; Stop nagging me.  (Lit., Don’t bang my teapot.)
Halevei! – If only…
Hamoyn – Common people
Handlen – To bargain; to do business
Hanoe hobn – to enjoy
Harte mogen – constipation


Hartsvaitik – Heart ache.
Hecher – Louder
Hefker – A mess
Heizel – Whorehouse
Hekdish – Decrepit place, a slumhouse, poorhouse; a mess
Heldish – Brave
Heldzel – Stuffed neck flesh; sort of a neck-kishke
Hendl – Chicken
Hert zich ein! – Listen here!
Hetsken zich – Shake and dance with joy
Hikevater – Stammerer Hinten – Rear, rear parts, backside, buttocks; in the rear
Hit zich! – Look out!
Hitsik – Hothead
Hitskop – Excitable person
Hob derech erets – Have respect


Hob dir in arbel – Lit., I’ve got you by the elbow (Used as a response to a derogatory remark as you would use “sticks and stones”

Hob nit kain deiges – Don’t worry

Hoben tsu zingen un tsu zogen – Have no end of trouble (Lit.,To sing and to talk)

Hobn groyse oygn – To be greedy

Hock mir nisht en chinik – Don’t hit me in the head. or Dont’ give me a headache.

Hoizer gaier – Beggar

Hoizirer – Peddler (from house to house)

Holishkes – Stuffed Cabbage

Host du bie mir an avleh! – So I made a mistake. So what!

Hulyen – A hellraiser


Ibberbuttle – Senile
Ich bin ahntoisht – I am disappointed
Ich bin dich nit mekaneh – I don’t envy you
Ich darf es ahf kapores – It’s good for nothing! I have no use for it. (Lit., I need it for a [useless] fowl sacrifice)
Ich darf es vi a loch in kop! – I need it like a hole in the head!
Ich hob dir lieb – I love you!
Ich eil zich (nit) – I am (not) in a hurry
Ich feif oif dir! – I despise you! Go to the devil! (Lit., I whistle on you!)
Ich gai chaleshen bald avek – I’m about to faint (from sheer exhaustion)
Ich hob dich in bod! – To hell with you! (Lit., I have you in the bath house!)


Ich hob dir! – Drop dead! Go flap you ears! (Lit., I have you….!) (Americanism!)
Ich hob es in drerd! – To hell with it.
Ich hob im feint – I hate him.
Ich hob im in bod! – To hell with him.
Ich hob mir fer pacht – I have you in my pocket. (I know you for what you are.)
Ich hob nicht kain anung – I have no idea.
Ich ken dir nisht farfeeren – I can’t lead you astray
Ich loif – I’m running
Ich vais – I know
Ich vais nit. – I don’t know.
Ich vel dir geben a khamalye – I’ll give you such a smack
Ich vel dir geben kadoches! – I’ll give you nothing! (Lit., I’ll give you malaria or a fever.)


Ich yog zich nit. – I’m not in a hurry.
Ich zol azoy vissen fun tsores. – I should know as little about trouble (as I know about what you are asking me)
Iker – Substance; people of substance
In a noveneh – For a change; once in a blue moon
In di alteh guteh tseiten! – In the good old days!
In di oygn – To one’s face
In drerd mein gelt! – My money went down the drain! (Lit., My money went to burial in the earth, to hell.)
In miten drinen – In the middle of; suddenly
Ipish – Bad odor, stink
Ir gefelt mir zaier. – You please me a great deal.
Iz brent mir ahfen hartz. – I have a heartburn.


Kaas (in kaas oyf) – Angry (with)
Kabaret forshtelung – Floorshow
Kabtzen, kaptsen – Pauper
Kaddish – A mourner’s prayer
Kaddishel – Baby son; endearing term for a boy or man
Kadoches – Fever
Kadoches mit koshereh fodem! – Absolutely nothing! (Lit., fever with a kosher thread)
Kaftan – Long coat worn by religious Jews
Kakapitshi – Conglomeration
Kalamutneh – Dreary, gloomy, troubled
Kalleh – Bride
Kalleh moid – A girl of marriageable age
Kallehniu – Little bride
Kalta neshomeh –  A cold soul
Kalekeh – A new bride who cannot even boil an egg.
Kalyeh – Bad, wrong, spoiled
Kam derlebt – Narrowly achieved (Lit., hardly lived to see)
Kam mit tsores! – Barely made it! (Lit., with some troubles) The word “Kam,” also is pronounced “Kom” or “Koim” depending on the region people come from.
Kam vos er kricht – Barley able to creep; Mr. Slowpoke
Kam vos er lebt – He’s hardly (barely) alive.
Kamtsoness – To be miserly
Kaneh – An enema
Kaporeh, (kapores) – Atonement sacrifice; forgiveness; (slang) good for nothing
Kaptsen – Penniless person
Karabeinik – Country peddler
Karger – Miser, tightwad
Kaseer – enema
Kasheh – Groats, mush cereal, buckwheat, porridge; a mess, mix-up, confusion
Kasheh varnishkes – Cooked groats and broad (or bowtie) noodles
Kashress – Kosher condition; Jewish religious dietary law
Kasnik, (keisenik) – Angry person; excitable person, hot head
Kasokeh – Cross-eyed
Katchka – Duck (quack, quack)
Katshkedik (Americanism) – Ducky, swell, pleasant
Katzisher kop – Forgetful (Lit., Cat head)
Kaynahorah – Lit: the evil eye.  Pronounced in order to ward of the evil eye, especially when speaking of one’s good fortune.  “Everyone in the family is happy and healthy kaynahorah.”
Kazatskeh – Lively Russian dance


Kein briere iz oich a breire – Not to have any choice available is also a choice. 
Kemfer – Fighter (usually for a cause)
Ken zein – Maybe, could be
Kenen oyf di finger – Have facts at one’s fingertips
Ketzele – Kitten
(To) Kibbitz – To offer unsolicited advice as a spectator
Kibbitzer – Meddlesome spectator
Kiddish (Borai pri hagofen) – Blessing over wine on the eve of Sabbath or Festivals
Kimpet-tzettel – Childbirth amulet or charm (from the German “kind-bet-tzettel” meaning childbirth label containing Psalm 121, names of angels, patriarchs
Kimpetoren – Woman in labour or immediately after the delivery
Kind un kait – Young and old
Kinderlech – Diminutive, affectionate term for children
Kish mir en toches – Kiss my backside (slang)
Kishef macher – Magic-worker
Kishkeh – Stuffed derma (Sausage shaped, stuffed with a mixture of flour, onions, salt, pepper and fat to keep it together, it is boiled, roasted and sliced) Also used to describe a person’s innards. “You sweat your kishkehs out to give your children an good education, and what thanks do you get?”
(A) Kitsel – Tickle
Klainer gornisht – Little prig (Lit., A little nothing)
Klemt beim hartz – Clutches at my heartstrings
Klaperkeh – Talkative woman
Klipeh – Gabby woman, shrew, a female demon
Klog- Plague
Klogmuter – Complainer, chronic complainer
(A) Klog iz mir! – Woe is me!
Kloolye – A curse
Klop – Bang, a real hard punch or wallop
Klotz (klutz) – Ungraceful, awkward, clumsy person; bungler
Klotz kasheh – Foolish question; fruitless question
Kloymersht – Not in reality, pretended (Lit., as if it were)
Knacker – A big shot
Knackerke – The distaff k’nacker, but a real cutie-pie.
Knaidel (pl., k’naidlech) – Dumplings usually made of matzoh meal, cooked in soup
Knippel – Button, knot; hymen, virginity; money tied in a knot in a handkerchief
Knish (taboo) – Vagina
Knishes – Baked dumplings filled with potato, meat, liver or barley


Kochalain – Summer boarding house with cooking privileges (Lit., cook by yourself)
Kochedik – Petulant, excitable
Kochleffel – One who stirs up trouble; gadabout, busy-body (Lit., a cooking ladle)
Kolboynik – Rascally know-it-all
(A) Kop oif di plaitses! – Good, common sense! (Lit., A head on the shoulders!)
Komisch – Funny
Kopvaitik – Headache 
Kosher – Jewish dietary laws based on “cleanliness”. Also referring to the legitimacy of a situation. “This plan doesn’t seem kosher”.
Koved – Respect, honour, reverence, esteem
Krank – Sick
Krank-heit – Sickness
Krassavitseh – Beauty, a doll, beautiful woman
Krechts – Groan, moan
Krechtser – Blues singer, a moaner
Kreplach – Small pockets of dough filled with chopped meat which look like ravioli, or won ton, and are eaten in soup; (slang) nothing, valueless
Kroivim – Relatives
Krolik – Rabbit
Kuch leffel – A person who mixes into other people’s business (cooking spoon)
Kuck im on (taboo) – Defecate on him! The hell with him!
Kuck zich oys! (taboo) – Go take a shit for yourself!
Kugel – Pudding
Kukn durkh di finger oyf – Shut one’s eyes to….., connive at……, wink at…..
Kum ich nisht heint, kum ich morgen – If I don’t come today, I’ll come tomorrow (procrastinator’s slogan)
Kumen tsu gast – To visit
Kuntzen – Tricks
Kuni leml – A nerd
Kunyehlemel – Naive, clumsy, awkward person; nincompoop; Casper Milquetoast
Kuppe drek- A piece of fecal matter (s–t)
Kurveh – Whore, prostitute
Kush in toches arein! (taboo) – Kiss my behind! (said to somebody who is annoying you)
Kushinyerkeh – Cheapskate; woman who comes to a store and asks for a five cents’ worth of vinegar in her own bottle
K’vatsh – Boneless person, one lacking character; a whiner, weakling
K’velen – Glow with pride and happiness, beam; be delighted
K’vetsh – Whine, complain; whiner, a complainer
K’vitsh – Shriek, scream, screech


Lachen mit yash-tsherkes – Forced or false laugh; laugh with anguish
Laidik-gaier – Idler, loafer
Lakeh – A funnel
Lamden – Scholar, erudite person, learned man
Lamed Vovnik – Refers to the Hebrew number “36” and traditionally each generation produces 36 wise and righteous persons who gain the approbation of “lamed vovnik.”
Lang leben zolt ir! – Long may you live!
Lange loksch – A very tall thin person , A long tall drink of water.
Lantslaite – Plural of lantsman
Lantsman – Countryman, neighbour, fellow townsman from “old country”.
Lapeh – Big hand
Layseh mogen – Diarrhea
(A) Lebedikeh velt! – A lively world!
(A) Lebediker – Lively person
(A) Leben ahf dein kop! – Words of praise like; Well said! Well done! (Lit., A long life upon your head.)


Lebst a chazerishen tog! – Living high off the hog!
Leck, shmeck – Done superficially (lick, smell)
L’chei-im, le’chayim! – To life! (the traditional Jewish toast); To your health, skol
Leffel – Spoon
Leibtzudekel – Sleeveless shirt (like bib) with fringes, worn by orthodox Jews
Leiden – To suffer
Lemechel – Milquetoast, quiet person
Lemeshkeh – Milquetoast, bungler
Leshem shomaim – Idealistically, “for the sake of heaven.”
Leshono toyvo tiko-seyvu – Happy New Year (May a good year be inscribed and sealed for you.)
Leveiyeh – Funeral
Lezem gayne – leave them be
Lig in drerd! – Get lost! Drop dead! (Lit., Bury yourself!)
Ligner – Liar


Litvak – Lithuanian; Often used to connote shrewdness and skepticism, because the Lithuanian Jews are inclined to doubt the magic powers of the Hasidic leaders; Also, a person who speaks with the Northeastern Yiddish accent.
Lobbus – Little monster
Loch – Hole Loch in kop – Hole in the head.
Loksch – An Italian gentleman.
Lokshen – Noodles
Lokshen strop – a “cat- o- nine tails”
Lominer gaylen – Clumsy fool (a golem-Frankenstein monster — created by the Lominer rebbe)
Loz mich tzu ru! – Leave me alone! (Lit., Let me be in peace!)
Luftmentsh – Person who has no business, trade, calling, nor income.
Luch in kup – A hole in the head ( ” I need this like a luch in kup”).


Machareikeh – Gimmick, contraption
Macher – big shot, person with access to authorities, man with contacts.
Machshaifeh – Witch
Maidel – Unmarried girl, teenager
Maideleh – Little girl (affectionate term)
Maven – Expert, connoisseur, authority
Maisse – A story
Maisse mit a deitch – A story with a (moral) twist
Makeh – Plague, wound, boil, curse
Mameleh – Mother dear
Mamelushen – Mother language (Yiddish)
Mamoshes – Substance, people of substance.
Mamzer – Bastard, disliked person, untrustworthy
Mamzerook – A naughty little boy
Mashgiach – Inspector, overseer or supervisor of Kashruth in restaurants & hotels.
Mashugga – Crazy
Matkes – Underpants
Maynster – Mechanic, repairman, workshop proprietor
Mayster – Master craftsman, champion,
Mazel Tov – Good Luck (lit) Generally used to convey “congratulations”.
Me ken brechen! – You can vomit from this!
Me ken lecken di finger! – It’s delicious!
Me krechts, me geht veyter – I complain and I keep going.
Me lost nit leben! – They don’t let you live!
Me redt zich oys dos hartz! – Talk your heart out! 
Mechuten – In-Law


Mechutonim – In-Laws (The parents of your child’s spouse)
Mechutainista – Mother-In-Law
Megillah – A long story
Mein bobbeh’s ta’am – Bad taste! Old fashioned taste!
Mein cheies gait oys! – I’m dying for it!
Mekheye – An extreme pleasure, orgasmic, out of this world wonderful!
Mekler – Go-between
Menner vash tsimmer – Men’s room
Mentsh – A special man or person. One who can be respected.
Menuvel – A person who is always causing grief, can get nothing right, and is always in the way.
Meshpokha – Extended family
Meshugass – Madness, insanity, craze
Meshugeh – Crazy
Meshugeh ahf toit! – Crazy as a loon. Really crazy!
Meshugeneh – Mad, crazy, insane female.
Meshugener – Mad, crazy, insane man
Meshugoyim – Crazy people
Messer – Knife
Me zogt – They say; it is said.
Mezinka – A special dance for parents whose last child is getting married
Mezuzah – Tiny box affixed to the right side of the doorway of Jewish homes containing a small portion of Deuteronomy, handwritten on parchment.
Mies – Ugly


Mieskeit – Ugly thing or person.
Mikveh – Ritual bath used by women just prior to marriage as well as after each monthly cycle. This represents a “spiritual cleansing after a potential to create a new life was not actualized. There are some religious men who also use mikvehs prior to festivals and the Sabbath. Some Chassidim immerse every morning before praying.
Min tor nit – One (or you) mustn’t
Minyan – Quorum of ten men necessary for holding public worship (must be over 13 years of age)
Mirtsishem – G-d willing
Mitn derinnen – All of a sudden, suddenly
Mitn grobn finger – Quibbling, stretching a point
Mitzvah – Good deed
Mizinik – The youngest child in an immediate family
Mogen Dovid – Star of David
Moisheh kapoyer – Mr. Upside-Down! A person who does everything backwards. Not knowing what one wants.
Mosser – Squealer
Mossik – Mischief maker, prankster, naughty little boy, imp
Moyel – Person (usually a rabbi) who performs circumcisions.
Mutek – Brave
Mutshen zich – To sweat out a job
Muttelmessig – Meddlesome person, kibbitzer
My Yiddishe Bubbie

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

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