Historically, Yiddish formed as a fusion between Hebrew and Germanic, Slavic, and even Romance languages as the spoken tongue of the Ashkenazi Jews. Today, the language has a number of speakers estimated at around 1.5 million, with some studies citing that Yiddish is on the rise again for the first time since the mid-20th century.
Even if you’re not Jewish, if you’re from the New York City area, chances are you grew up with plenty of exposure to Yiddish, its culture, and the colorful words and expressions of the language. In fact, using Yiddish in your everyday speech is an easy way to identify with the diverse metropolitan culture of New York, not to mention it’s just plain fun.
Ready to add some color and chutzpah to your vocabulary? Then keep reading!
You probably already use this word without realizing it’s Yiddish, but klutz comes from klots, meaning a block of wood. That’s why we use it to refer to dense or clumsy people.
I love this word. Pronounced “hoots-pah,” this denotes audacity or courage in its English usage, though it can also be used as an insult since it originally means arrogant or presumptuous.