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May 11, 2015
This week’s theme
Words borrowed from Yiddish

This week’s words
shadchan
gunsel
tummler
shicker
heimisch

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

If variety is the spice of life, exotic words might be the spice of language. The English language has a big pantry, overflowing with spices from all parts of the world. In fact, we have borrowed, stolen, and pilfered words from more than a hundred languages.

Some of the more pungent among these are words from Yiddish. We have featured Yiddish borrowings many times in the past, but we aren’t going to run out any time soon.

This week we’ll feature five words to describe people, words that are borrowed from Yiddish and are now part of the English language.

shadchan

PRONUNCIATION:
(SHAHT-khuhn)

MEANING:
noun: A matchmaker or a marriage-broker.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Yiddish shadkhan, from Hebrew. Earliest documented use: 1890.

USAGE:
“Moss became a highbrow shadchan, matching freewheeling directors with willing musicians to graft new theater onto old scores.”
Justin Davidson; A Director Melds Classic Poetry and Music; New York; Jan 4, 2010.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong. -Richard Feynman, physicist, Nobel laureate (11 May 1918-1988)

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