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A.Word.A.Daywith Anu Garg
Charles V, King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor, is reported to have said, "I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse." One wonders how he would have completed, "and Yiddish to..."
Yiddish, a language full of wit and charm, embodies a deep appreciation of human behavior in all its colorful manifestations. This week we'll look at a few Yiddishisms that have enriched the English language. Add these words from Yiddish to bring a little zest to your conversation.
schmeer or schmear or shmear or shmeer
1. The entire set (as in the whole schmeer).
2. Bribe or flattery.
3. Spread or paste.
To butter up: to flatter or bribe.
ETYMOLOGY:From Yiddish schmirn (to smear, grease, or flatter), from Middle High German smiren. Earliest recorded use: 1930.
NOTES:Literally speaking, to schmeer is to smear, cream cheese on a bagel, for example. The term is also used in many metaphorical senses: to flatter or bribe someone. Many languages have similar terms. In English we have: "to grease someone's palm" (to bribe) and "to butter someone up" (to flatter). There's another metaphorical sense in English that makes use of schmeer's cousin, smear, as in "to smear someone's reputation".
USAGE:"All three of the women sharing the bill have extensive TV experience -- HBO and Comedy Central specials, Letterman, Leno, the whole shmear."
James Sullivan; We Are Women, Hear Us Roar; The San Francisco Chronicle; Oct 17, 2002.
"Creswell's attorney, Michael Axelrad, said jurors indicated to him that
this schmeer tactic did not swing their decision."
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:No matter what side of the argument you are on, you always find people on your side that you wish were on the other. -Jascha Heifetz, violinist (1901-1987)
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