Yiddish Dictionary

 

online vocabulary and thesaurus with definitions

 
Yiddish Dictionary

This Yiddish glossary (dictionary) of Basic Jewish Terms and Concepts offers a collection of Jewish and Yiddish words and expressions along with information, definitions and other details used within the Torah, the Judaism, Jewish traditional, Jewish heritage and culture, Jewish philosophy and Jewish religion sources.

There is great variation in the transliteration of Yiddish words. In the quotations used, the same word may be spelled differently from text to text. To prevent confusion, I have taken the liberty of changing the spelling in sources quoted to make them conform to my arbitrary choice.[Belarussian Yuddish] The glossary follows those choices. Pro- nunciation, too, varies, so I have not attempted to impose a standard that does not exist. If you do not know how to say a word, ask!

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A

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B

BAGEL. [Yiddish] A hard roll, shaped like a doughnut, simmered in hot water for two minutes before baking, then glazed with egg white.

BENTSH LICHT.[Yiddish] To recite the blessing over Sabbath or holi- day candles.

BOKHER.[Yiddish] A boy.

BORSHT.[Yiddish -Russian] Beet soup.

BUND.[Yiddish] General Jewish Workers' Union of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia.

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C

CABALA. [Yiddish] Jewish riilfstical movement. The body of Jewish mystical tradition; liter~t~~thought.

CHALLAH.[Yiddish] A braided loaf of white bread, glazed with egg white, and delicious.

CHANUKAH.[Yiddish] The Feast of Dedication or Lights, commem- orating the victory of the Jewish Maccabees over the Syrians in a fight for religious freedom, 167 B.C.

CHEDER or Heder.[Yiddish] Elementary religious school.

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D

DALLUS.[Yiddish] Poverty.

DIASPORA. Exile. Dispersion of the Jews among the lands outside of Israel.

DYBBUK.[Yiddish] Evil spirit, usually a condemned soul that gets hold of a living person on whom the dead one has a claim. .

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E

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F

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G

Gabbai. Synagogue warden

GAN ADEN The Garden of Eden.

GAON Genius. Originally title given to heads of Babylon's rabbinical academy. Applied to rabbi of exceptional learning

Gelilah. the person who "dresses" the torah

GEMARA. One of the two basic parts of the Talmud. It interprets and discusses the law as presented in the other part, the Mishnah.

GESHEFT. [Yiddish] Business.

GEZUNT. [Yiddish] Health.

GOY. [Yiddish] Anyone not a Jew. A Gentile.

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H

Hagbah: the torah "lifter"

HAGGADAH The historical narrative read aloud at the Pass- over seder, incorporating psalms, prayers, and songs. It tells the story of Israel's bondage in, and flight from, Egypt.

HASID Follower or member of the Hasidic movement.

HASIDISM Religious movement founded by Israel Baal Shem Tov in the seventeenth century.

HASKALA Enlightenment. The movement for intellectual emancipation, for secularization of Jewish life.

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I

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J

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K

KADDISH The mourner's prayer.

KADOCHES (K'doches) - nothing but also means "fever"
examples:
Ich vel dir geben kadoches! - I'll give you nothing.
I'll give him a kadoches in my will.

KAHAL Congregation, community. Jewish community or- ganization.

KEHILLA Congregation or community. The organization of the community.

KHIDUSH. Prayer or ceremony sanctifying the Sabbath and Jewish holy days.

KHUMESH. The Pentateuch, the five books of Moses.

KNISH. [Yudish] Small dumpling stuffed with groats, grated potatoes, chopped liver, onions, or cheese.

KOP. [Yudish] Head.

KOSHER Food ritually fit to eat because prepared under the dietary laws.

KUGEL. [Yudish] Pudding of noodles or potatoes.

kvittel. Yiddish term meaning individual prayer; lit. "short letter"; pl. kvitlach.

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L

LITVAK. [Yudish] A Lithuanian Jew.

LUFTMENSCH. [Yudish] A dreamer (airman) without an occupation, who makes a living from who knows what.

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M

MALOCHIM Angels.

MANDLEN Almonds.

MASKIL. A follower of the Haskala, an enlightened one.

MATZO Unleavened bread eaten during Passover.

MELAMED. Teacher, usually of elementary Hebrew.

MIDRASH The analysis and exposition of the Holy Scriptures.

MISHNAH That basic part of the Talmud which is the codified oral Law.

MISNAGID One opposed to Hasidism.

MITZVA. Divine commandment. Good deed, meritorious act.

MOHEL. [Yudish] Circumciser.

MOSERIM.[Yudish] Informers.

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N

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O

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P

PARNOSSEH. Livelihood, occupation, trade.

PENTATEUCH. The five books of Moses, which begin the Old Testament.

PILPUL. A complicated scholarly analysis or interpretation of a rabbinical text.

PROSTEH. [Yudish] The simple, the common. Unschooled or lower- class Jews.

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Q

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R

REBBE Teacher; title given a learned man. Used as equiva- lent of mister.

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S

SANHEDRIN. The seventy elders, headed by a patriarch, who sat in Jerusalem until A.D. 70 as a kind of Supreme Court, ruling on theological, ethical, civil, and political questions.

SCHWER.[Yuddish] Hard.

SEDER The festive meal and religious service held on the first and second evenings of Passover.

SEYKHEL. [Yuddish]Intelligence, good sense.

SHABBOS. (shabbes) [Yuddish] Sabbath.

SHEYDIM. [Yuddish] Ghosts, devils, evil spirits.

SHEYNEH. [Yuddish] The beautiful, the fine. Upper-class Jews.

SHOCHET. Ritual slaughterer.

SHOLEM. Peace. Health.

SHTADLAN. [Yuddish] One who uses his influence with the authorities on behalf of the community.

SHTETL. [Yuddish] Village, small town, especially the Jewish com- munities of Eastern Europe before World War II.

SHUL. [Yuddish] Synagogue.

SHULHAN ARUKH Title of compendium of rabbinical law, by Joseph Caro.

SUCCOTH. The Festival of Tabernacles, or Feast of Booths, a harvest holiday.

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T

TALLIS Prayer shawl worn by male Jews during prayers.

TALMUD Basic compendium of Jewish law based upon scholarly interpretation of the Torah. A monumental body of many books.

TORAH The first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. All Jewish law and wisdom.

TSADIK A saint. A righteous one. A Hasidic leader.


Tzures
To see Presentation Yiddishe Tzures click on the link. To move to the next slide press "page Down"
Yiddish Dictionary

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U

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V

VELT. [Yuddish] World.

VOKH. [Yuddish] Week.

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W

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X

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Y

Yahrzeit. Yiddish: lit. anniversary. The anniversary of the death of a close relative.

Yarmulke. From Tartar for skullcap or from Aramaic yirei malka (fear of the King). The skullcap head covering worn by Jews during services and by some Jews at all times. Also known as a kippah.

YESHIVA. Rabbinical college or seminary.

YICHUS. Status, based on learning, wealth, ancestry, or relatives.

Yiddish. A Jewish language that developed beginning in the Middle Ages as Jews who were pushed eastward from Germany wove many Hebrew and some Slavic terms into the Germanic base of the language that they preserved as their ethnic tongue. Yiddish was spoken among Jews in eastern Europe and in places to which they migrated.

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Z

zaddik (or tzaddik). A "righteous man," leader of a Hasidic sect. (See also Rebbe) More generally, a person who displays exceptional generosity and other personal qualities. Legend holds that the world exists by virtue of 36 zaddikim.

ZMIROS.[Yuddish] Songs recited after the Sabbath meal.

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Yiddish is one of a number of languages that Jews have assimilated
into their culture from their foreign environment during
their long exile. These languages were
"Judaized" and, at least initially, served primarily as a means
of everyday communication. They were regarded as of lower
status than the ancient and holy language, Hebrew, which enjoyed
almost exclusive dominance in the realms of religious
ritual and scholarship. Yiddish, developing and flourishing
side by side with the Hebrew-Aramaic which continued to
be the unifying medium of communication among Jews of
all lands of the dispersion, is unique. While Judezmo (popularly
known as Ladino), Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Persian, and
other Jewish languages also developed a linguistic identity, a
rich folklore, and a variety of literary genres, none can claim
as copious and diversified a literature as that which flourished
in Yiddish, nor did any of them reach the geographical
spread of Yiddish, nor equal it in number of speakers. During
the second half of the 19th century at the latest, all the literary
genres found in modern European literature had also become
vehicles of expression in Yiddish.[Encyclopaedia Judaica v.21]

There is a theory:
The "Yiddish" language is not a German dialect. Many people are led to believe so because "Yiddish" has borrowed so many words from the German language. If "Yiddish" is a German dialect acquired from the Germans then what language did the Khazars speak for 1000 years they existed in eastern Europe before they acquired culture from the Germans? The Khazars must have spoken some language when they invaded eastern Europe. What was that language? When did they discard it? How did the entire Khazar population discard one language and adopt another all of a sudden? The idea is too absurd to discuss. "Yiddish" is the modern name for the ancient mother-tongue of the Khazars with added German, Slavonic and Baltic adopted and adapted numerous words.





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