Friday, September 18, 2020 -
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Jewfro, yiddo and farkakte are now all officially English

It’s amazing how many words are added to the Oxford English Dictionary every year. It appears to range between 500-1,000! English, unlike other languages, is relatively open to neologisms or even just new definitions of words depending on usage. In a more radical example, some years ago, after years of the word “literally” being used ubiquitously as meaning “figuratively,” the OED actually added that incorrect definition to its “literally” entry. Needless to say, word purists were fuming.

Gabe Friedman of JTA has put together all the new entries in this year’s OED that have a Jewish flavor. When you see how many there are, you’ll no longer be surprised about that 500-1,000 figure cited above. What’s interesting is that most of these are not English but are in fact of Yiddish origin, evidence, again, of English’s inclusivity when it comes to language. If English speakers are using it regularly in their English language conversation, it counts.

  • anti-Semiticism, n.: “Prejudice, hostility, or discrimination towards Jewish people on religious, cultural, or ethnic grounds; = anti-Semitism n.”
  • bialy, n.: “A chewy bread roll having a circular indentation filled with finely chopped onion. Cf. Bialystok n.”
  • Bialystok, n.: “a chewy bread roll having a circular indentation filled with finely chopped onion; = bialy n.”
  • bochur, n.: “A boy or young man; spec. a student of Talmudic and rabbinical writings at a yeshiva (yeshiva n.). Cf. yeshiva bochur n.”
  • chrain [Yiddish], n.: “Horseradish; spec. a piquant sauce made with grated horseradish, vinegar, and (sometimes) beetroot, used as a condiment and traditionally served with . . .”
  • chutzpadik [Yiddish], adj.: “Esp. in Jewish usage: showing chutzpah; impudent, impertinent; audacious, very self-confident.”
  • farbrengen, n.: “A chasidic gathering, usually with eating, drinking, singing, and discussion of chasidic teachings, held especially on the Sabbath and other festivals…”
  • farkakte [Yiddish], adj.: “Covered in excrement. Rare.”
  • futzing [Yiddish], n.: “Ineffectual or trifling activity; messing about; tinkering. Chiefly with around.”
  • glatt kosher, adj.: “Designating food prepared according to a strict interpretation of Jewish dietary law; of or relating to such food; strictly kosher.”
  • hanukkiah, n.: “A candelabrum holding eight lights and a shamash (shamash n. 2), used during the eight days of Chanukah. Cf. menorah n.”
  • Jewdar, n.: “An ability, attributed esp. to Jewish people and likened humorously to radar, to identify a (fellow) Jewish person by intuition . . .”
  • Jewfro, n.: “A curly, frizzy, or bushy hairstyle worn by some Jewish people, reminiscent of an Afro.”
  • Jew-hating, n.: “Hatred of Jewish people or culture; anti-Semitism.”
  • Jew-hating, adj.: “That hates Jewish people or culture; anti-Semitic.”
  • Jewish American, n. and adj.: “An American of Jewish origin or descent.”
  • Jewish-Christian, n. and adj.: “Church History. A member of a Jewish-Christian church or community (see sense B. 1). Cf. Judaeo-Christian n. 1.”
  • Jewish Christianity, n.: “The state or fact of being Jewish-Christian. Also: Jewish-Christian culture, beliefs, etc. Cf. Judaeo-Christianity n.”
  • Jew town, n.: “A name for: an area inhabited predominantly by Jewish people. In later use, esp. such an area within a larger urban environment . . .”
  • Jew York, n.: “A name for: New York.”
  • kibitz [Yiddish], n.: “A spectator of a game, esp. of cards. Cf. kibitzer n. 1. Rare.”
  • kvetching [Yiddish], adj.: “Characterized by complaining or criticizing; that complains or criticizes.”
  • kvetchy [Yiddish], adj.: “Given to or characterized by complaining or criticizing; ill-tempered, irritable.”
  • Semiticist, n.: “A person who studies Semitic languages, literature, etc.; = Semitist n.”
  • Shabbat goyah, n.: “In Jewish usage: a non-Jewish woman who performs for strictly Orthodox Jews tasks forbidden to them on the Sabbath (see Shabbat n.) . . .”
  • shaliach, n.: “An emissary or agent; a representative or proxy. Also (in Jewish worship): a person responsible for leading the communal worship of a synagogue; =…”
  • unterfirer, n.: “In Jewish usage: (at a Jewish wedding) a person who leads or accompanies the bride or groom to the chuppah (chuppah n.).
  • yeshiva bochur, n.: “A student of Talmudic and rabbinical writings at a yeshiva (yeshiva n.). Cf. bochur n.”
  • yiddo, n.: “A Jewish person. Also in extended use: a supporter of or player for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.”

That last entry caused a bit of a stir. Responding to debate about the inclusion of yiddo, the dictionary’s compilers said they judge proposed additions by their significance, not whether they offend.

“We reflect, rather than dictate, how language is used which means we include words which may be considered sensitive and derogatory. These are always labeled as such,” the OED said in a statement.

Anybody hungry for a bialy now?

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