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Nov 4, 2013
This week's theme
Words borrowed from Yiddish

This week's words
bupkis
schnozzle
schmo
pogrom
dreck

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

If French can be considered the language of romance and Italian the language of music, Yiddish would be the language of complaint. And who can blame speakers of Yiddish? They have plenty to kvetch about.

Yiddish (literally, Jewish) is a language without a country. (Israel's official languages are Hebrew and Arabic). It started out as the language of the Ashkenazi Jews (from Germany). The language has German as its base, includes a generous sprinkling of words from Hebrew and other languages, and is written in an alphabet based on Hebrew.

While kvetching may seem like the favorite pastime of Yiddish speakers, they do much more than that as they go about their lives and their language reflects this. This week we'll see five Yiddish words that English has added to its word stock.

bupkis

PRONUNCIATION:
(BUHP-kis)

MEANING:
noun: Absolutely nothing; worthless.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Yiddish, short for kozebubkes (goat droppings), from bub/bob (bean). Earliest documented use: 1937.

NOTES:
The word is also spelled as bobkes, bubkes, bopkes, bupkes, bupkus, bubkis, bubkes, etc. The English equivalent of the term is beans, as in: He doesn't know beans about computers.

USAGE:
"Sorry, your stock options are worth bupkis."
Nancy Davidson; The Secrets of Lost Cats; St. Martin's Press; 2013.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer. -Will Rogers, humorist (1879-1935)

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