The Top Ten: Yiddish words


John Rentoul
Friday 27 June 2014 18:22 BST
Shtum: Silent, with a few layers of extra meaning
Shtum: Silent, with a few layers of extra meaning

Thank you to Michael Fishberg and Matt Hoffman for this one. Matt noodged me to do it. Chutzpah has already featured in 'Top 10 useful words for which there is no English equivalent', which is just as well, because competition for these 10 places was fierce.

1. Shtum Silent, with a few layers of extra meaning, as with most of these.

2. Shpilkes Agitated (as in waiting for exam results)

3. Kvetch Complain, complainer.

4. Zimzoom Mosquito.

5. Verklempt or farklempt Overwrought. Nominated by Josh Glancy and Tom Doran.

6. Schlep Long and tedious journey, noun or verb. Nominated by Ruth Muirhead.

7. Schlemiel Awkward, unlucky person.

8. Schmooze Originally a long and intimate chat.

9. Nosh Originally a snack bar.

10. Noodge To pester. From Matt Hoffman. In Britain and America, influenced by nudge. Verb and noun, although Polish Yiddish also has noodnik or nudnik, a pest, nominated by Martyn P Jackson.

Next week: Great unremarked changes of our lifetime

Coming soon: Elegant variations (such as a yes-brainer or a might-read). Send your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, to

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