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





Find us on Facebook!
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.