On Language


Heading Into the 'I' of the Knaidel

By Philologos

Did Arvind Mahankali spell ‘knaidel’ correctly or not? The problem lies not with Yiddish, the New York Times or a 13-year-old boy. Philologos says it is the English language.Read More


A Very Yiddish Take on the Star Spangled Banner

By Philologos

Most people look at the American flag and see stars and stripes. But some Yiddish speakers, particularly the late poet Abraham Liessin, saw noodles and pasta.Read More


How Do You Say 'Fuhgeddaboudit' in Yiddish?

By Philologos

‘Fuhgeddaboudit’ certainly originated in New York, and most probably in Brooklyn’s criminal underbelly. Philologos delves deep into the underworld annals to get to its roots.Read More


Why Jews Didn't Always Seem To Have a Word for Sarcasm

By Philologos

Is it possible that neither Yiddish nor Hebrew had words for ‘cynical’ or ‘sarcastic’? Maybe, but we needn’t make assumptions about cultures by the words they seem to lack.Read More


Redemption of the First Shorn

By Philologos

Some Jews cut a boy’s hair for the first time when he turns 3. There is more to the ceremony of the opsherenish than meets the scissors.Read More


A Nebbish Is Born

By Philologos

We all know what a nebbish is. But it takes Philologos to track down its roots in nebekh, a Yiddish word with many, many meanings.Read More


Abbreviate This!

By Philologos

One of our readers would like to know the origins of the word nebekh. He’ll have to complete a crash course in the lively art of Yiddish abbreviation first.Read More


When To Call a Schmuck a Schmuck

By Philologos

There are many words for idiot. But few have the same ring as ‘schmuck.’ We offer a look at the word through the lens of Yiddish — and pop culture.Read More


The Sheynest Punim of Them All

By Philologos

The word ‘punim’ has worked its way into the Yinglish lexicon. But you’ll still need plenty of chutzpah to try and use it as a Scrabble word.Read More


How To Confuse a Gentile

By Philologos

Shhh Daber nisht! The phrase, which is a mix of Hebrew and Yiddish, was one of a few used by Jews in Europe to keep gentiles from listening to their conversations.Read More





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  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
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  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
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