Today’s Word: schlemiel

Word: schlemiel or schlemihl or shlemiel

PRONUNCIATION:

(shluh-MEEL)

MEANING:

noun: An inept, clumsy person: a habitual bungler.

ETYMOLOGY:

From Yiddish shlemil, from Hebrew Shelumiel, a Biblical and Talmudic figure who met an unhappy end, according to the Talmud. Earliest documented use: 1892.

NOTES:

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.

USAGE:

“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.

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