Wordsmith.Org: the magic of words


A.Word.A.Day

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  


Home

Today's Word

Yesterday's Word

Archives

FAQ


Nov 22, 2010
This week's theme
Words from Yiddish

This week's words
schmeer
noodge
shamus
golem
schmegeggy

Have your say
on our bulletin board
Wordsmith Talk
Discuss
Feedback
RSS/XML
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share
A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Charles V, King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor, is reported to have said, "I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse." One wonders how he would have completed, "and Yiddish to..."

Yiddish, a language full of wit and charm, embodies a deep appreciation of human behavior in all its colorful manifestations. This week we'll look at a few Yiddishisms that have enriched the English language. Add these words from Yiddish to bring a little zest to your conversation.

schmeer or schmear or shmear or shmeer

PRONUNCIATION:
(shmeer)

MEANING:
noun:
1. The entire set (as in the whole schmeer).
2. Bribe or flattery.
3. Spread or paste.
verb tr:
To butter up: to flatter or bribe.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Yiddish schmirn (to smear, grease, or flatter), from Middle High German smiren. Earliest recorded use: 1930.

NOTES:
Literally speaking, to schmeer is to smear, cream cheese on a bagel, for example. The term is also used in many metaphorical senses: to flatter or bribe someone. Many languages have similar terms. In English we have: "to grease someone's palm" (to bribe) and "to butter someone up" (to flatter). There's another metaphorical sense in English that makes use of schmeer's cousin, smear, as in "to smear someone's reputation".

USAGE:
"All three of the women sharing the bill have extensive TV experience -- HBO and Comedy Central specials, Letterman, Leno, the whole shmear."
James Sullivan; We Are Women, Hear Us Roar; The San Francisco Chronicle; Oct 17, 2002.

"Creswell's attorney, Michael Axelrad, said jurors indicated to him that this schmeer tactic did not swing their decision."
Al Lewis; Starbucks, Pepsi Win With Ponzi Allegation; Dow Jones News Service (New York); Aug 14, 2009.

See more usage examples of schmeer in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
No matter what side of the argument you are on, you always find people on your side that you wish were on the other. -Jascha Heifetz, violinist (1901-1987)

A.Word.A.Day by email:

Subscribe

"The most welcomed, most enduring piece of daily mass e-mail in cyberspace."

The New York Times

Sponsored by:

Give the Gift of Words

Share the magic of words. Send a gift subscription of A.Word.A.Day.

Anu on Words:
Writer Magazine
Globe & Mail

Interact:

Bulletin board
Wordsmith Talk

Moderated Chat
Wordsmith Chat

Readers' Voice
AWADmail

Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 2014 Wordsmith