Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place

Dictionary, Schmictionary


Today’s prompt:

“Time to confess: tell us about a time when you used a word whose meaning you didn’t actually know (or were very wrong about, in retrospect).”

At one time I often used the word “schmuck” to describe a person who was annoying, obnoxious, stupid, or just a plain screw-up. I liked using that word because I thought it sounded funny and was a lot softer than a word like “idiot” or something more vulgar. It also had a satisfying feel when it came tripping off the tongue. “He’s such a schmuck!”.

One day I used that word in the office to describe someone for a reason I have long forgotten. My supervisor at the time who had some familiarity with Yiddish said “do you know what that word means?”

I told her what I thought it meant. Then she told me what it really meant. Uh-oh.

You will need to read the definition on Wikipedia to find out.  Let’s just say that word is forbidden in some Yiddish speaking households.

So the lessons I learned from that are this:

  • Don’t borrow words from other languages unless you check the meaning first.
  • Even more important: don’t think so poorly of others that you end up calling them names — in any language.

From this experience I learned it is better to be a mensch than a schmuck.


6 thoughts on “Dictionary, Schmictionary

  1. I will say that after investigating what the real meaning of that word is, that I too have been calling people something I didn’t intend. I thought it meant obtuse, I really did. I won’t be using it again I can tell you. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. I’m going to make that my word of the day on Monday. Bwahahahahaaaa

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