Insult – Yiddish

Yiddish Insult

Schmuck—a loser, a dope, a fool.

Performer’s analysis: When I was in Germany (during World War II) I saw this word on a sign over a fancy retail establishment. I was stunned to learn that it meant “Jeweler” in German. Go figure.

Collector’s Analysis: Schmuck, which is Yiddish for loser, has entered American language and is widely used in the United States today. Schmuck entered the United States at the turn of the century with the arrival of thousands of Jews from Eastern Europe who came over to fulfill the American Dream. Essentially, Schmuch has been borrowed and ultimately adopted by the English as an insult for someone who is an idiot or a fool.

It also should be noted that schmuck, though it is intended to mean idiot, is derived from the word penis (dick). The use of penis or dick as an insult in the United States is quite common. In the dorms, when someone refers to another person as a “dick”, it more often that not means that person is an idiot and stupid.