Talk like you’re a Russ & Daughters regular and keep the Yiddish flame alive with these basic phrases.

Naches: Pride

Nebbish: An unfortunate man

Nosh: Snack

Nu: An interjection, “So?”

Oy: An exclamation, “Oh!”

Oy vey iz mir: Oh, woe is me!

Oyf a nikhtern mogn ken men

keyn zakh nit fartrogn:

With an empty stomach, nothing

can be tolerated

Parveh: Neither meat nor dairy

To fuss or mess around

To explode with emotion

To drag

Fat (as in schmaltz herring),

or overblown

Schmear: To spread

Schmooze: To chat

Shep naches: To take pride

Sheyne meydel: A beautiful girl

Bowl, dish

Shpiel: A long talk, a lecture

Shtetl: A small town or village,

a community

Tchotchke: Trinket, knick-knack, junk

Tuchas: One’s rear end

Tsimmis: A dish with carrots and dried fruit, also “a fuss”

Verklempt: Choked with emotion

Voos makht ir gits: How are you

doing, pal?

Yenta: A gossip, a talkative person

Zolst vaksn vee a mair/tsibeleh,

mint kop in dre erd:

You should grow like a carrot/onion,

with your head in the ground.

A shande: A disgrace

Ay yi yi: Oh no!

Abi me leibt: At least I’m alive!

A zie gezunt: As long as you’re healthy!

Alter kocker: A cranky old man

Bissel: A little bit, a small amount

Blintzes: Sweet cheese-filled crepes

Boychik: Young boy, handsome, kiddo

Bubbemeise: Old wives' tale

Bubbeleh: A term of endearment

Bupkes: Nothing, something worthless or absurd

Nerve, audacity

Ess: To eat

Farblondget: Mixed up

Fress: To eat

Gantze mishpoche:
The whole family

Geh gezindter hait:
Go, be healthy! (Used to say goodbye)

Gelt: Money

Git yontef: Happy holiday

Heimish: Home-like, friendly

Khrain: Horseradish

Kibitz: To gossip, to chat

Kvell: To be proud, to beam

Kvetch: To complain, to whine

L’chaim: To life! A toast.

Macher: Big shot

Mazel tov!: Good luck!

A virtuous person


Mishuggenar: A crazy person

Mishpoche: Family


Return To About Us