The Joys of Yiddish - Shmooz and Shmuck



Both verb and noun, shmooz means a friendly, gossipy, prolonged, heart-to-heart talk – or, to have such a talk. “They had a little shmooz and settled everything.” “She shmoozed with her father until dinner. “ “How about a walk and a shmooz?”

“There’s nothing better, to get something off your chest, than a shmooz with a friend.”


I have never encountered a word that conveys “heart-to-heart chit-chat” as warmly as does shmooz.


Gelett Burgess, who invented the word “blurb” and was the creator of the limerick about “the purple cow,” once tried to smuggle “huzzlecoo,” a word he coined, into English. “Huzzlecoo” never caught on; but it was a dead ringer for shmooz.




Rhymes with “stuck.” From German, in some way or other, where Schmuck is “an ornament,” “jewelry”; shmuck is “neat,” “smart,” and schmücken means “to decorate.” In Yiddish, shmock means an “ornament.”


I. (Obscene) Penis.


Never utter shmuck lightly, or in the presence of women and children. Indeed, it was uneasiness about shmuck that led to the truncated euphamism shmo – and any shmo knows what shmo comes from.


Jews tend to be puritanical about public references to the pubic. I never heard any elders, certainly not my father or mother, use shmuck, which was regarded as so vulgar as to be taboo. But vulgarity has its raison d’être.


2. (Obscene) A dope, a jerk, a boob; a clumsy, bumbling fellow.


In this sense, shmuck, like its English equivalent, is widely used by males, and with gusto; few impolite words express comparable


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