Word: schlemiel or schlemihl or shlemiel
noun: An inept, clumsy person: a habitual bungler.
From Yiddish shlemil, from Hebrew Shelumiel, a Biblical and Talmudic figure who met an unhappy end, according to the Talmud. Earliest documented use: 1892.
No discussion of schlemiel would be complete without mentioning schlimazel, one prone to having bad luck. In a restaurant, a schlemiel is the waiter who spills soup, and a schlimazel is the diner on whom it lands.
“Warren is an endearing schlemiel who is all awkward gestures, inexpressive shrugs, and with a physical clumsiness.”
Set Misses Mark But Cast’s Touch is Sure; Dominion Post (Wellington, New Zealand); Mar 3, 2008.
Explore “schlemiel” in the Visual Thesaurus.