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schlimazel or shlimazel (shli-MAH-zuhl) noun

Someone prone to having extremely bad luck.

[From Yiddish, from shlim (bad, wrong) + mazl (luck). A related term is mazel tov (literally, good luck) used to convey congratulations or best wishes.]

A schlimazel can be concisely described as a born loser. No discussion of schlimazel could be complete without mentioning his counterpart: schlemiel, a habitual bungler. They go together:

A schlemiel is one who always spills his soup, schlimazel is the one on whom it always lands.

A schlimazel's toast always falls butter-side down. A schlemiel always butters his toast on both sides.

"No one would deny (Virginia Governor Mark) Warner took office under lousy conditions - facing an opposition-party legislature during a recession - which qualifies him as a schlimazel."
A. Barton Hinkle; So, is the Governor a Schlemiel or a Schlimazel?; Richmond Times-Dispatch (Virginia); Jan 28, 2003.

"He (Uncle Danny) ticked off the names on the Pirates' roster. 'Abrams, Gordon, Kravitz, Levy - what are we running, a shlimazel farm?'"
Clarke Blaise; Sitting Shivah With Cousin Benny; Salmagundi (Saratoga Springs, New York); Fall 1999.

This week's theme: Words borrowed from other languages


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