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I've heard this expression several times in TV shows, but I couldn't find it anywhere. Is it like a small "piece" of some spread? Can I say for example:

"Shmare me some Nutella"?

Or

Can I have a shmare of Nutella on my toast?

  • It is possible that someone who has never spent time in the company of speakers whose parents or grandparents speak Yiddish, but has heard the word on TV, might say something like "Shmear me some Nutella". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 13 '18 at 13:31
  • Thanks a lot. Thats's very helpful! I specifically remember that in The Big Bang Theory someone said just: "Schmear me!" – Susan Cassin Oct 13 '18 at 13:36
  • The further away you get from the generation that spoke Yiddish, both time-wise and culture-wise, the more likely you will hear schmear used like it was a normal English word or perhaps occupying some transitional place where the usages sound funny and the use is intentionally comic. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 13 '18 at 13:39
  • I think I found the scene you were talking about: youtube.com/watch?v=aTZuzJ_k7lA – Kodos Johnson Oct 13 '18 at 16:44
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    W/R/T the Big Bang usage, "[noun] me" is not really grammatical (AFAIK), but is slang for "give me a [noun]", usually asked of a buddy in a friendly and relaxed setting. In my experience, the only really commonly used noun is beer, and the similar sounds of "beer me!" and "schmear me!" makes for a good joke on TV. If I said e.g. "screwdriver me!", I suspect native speakers would be confused without context, and words that can also be verbs would be even more confusing (e.g. "hammer me!"). – A C Oct 13 '18 at 19:26
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Just to add on to Lambie's answer: As with the Jewish holiday of "Hanukkah" (or "Chanukkah", "Chanukah" etc.) there is no single correct spelling for many of the Yiddish words that you might hear in regular conversation. This is because the words have been transliterated from a language that has sounds that don't appear in English.

The most common spelling I've seen is schmear, because the "sch" combination most closely resembles the Yiddish pronunciation, although most English speakers just say it like the typical "sh". So shmear or shmeer would not be incorrect.

There are dozens of similar Yiddish words that have made their way into common English -- kvetch, glitch, shlep, shmaltz, shmooze, schmuck, spiel (pronounced "shpeel") and many others. In some amusing cases the words have become so common that people use them without thinking. For example bupkes (or bupkis, or bubkis) recently appeared in the Disney children's movie Moana, even though the original, literal meaning of "goat excrement" is roughly equivalent to saying "shit".

  • Great, Andrew.Thank for adding those common ones. My brain just wasn't bringing them up. You have two that I already mentioned. :) I wonder how many people knew schlong when the current president used it. Public speech is really going downhill with him. – Lambie Oct 13 '18 at 14:54
  • @Lambie Well, being a Jewish person whose parents are from New York, I probably have heard them more often than most. My wife (the shiksa) loves to use Yiddish whenever she can. As for Trump, I have no love -- but Lyndon B. Johnson was famously foul-mouthed, although less publicly. – Andrew Oct 13 '18 at 15:10
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    LBJ is a saint compared to this bum. Nussbaum tweeted: Schlong is not a verb even if used by a putz. (not an exact quote but very funny). – Lambie Oct 13 '18 at 15:59
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    You missed the closely-related words kitsch and tchotchke. Then there are the insulting politically incorrect ones like schwartze and faygeleh that thankfully seem to be dying out. – Canadian Yankee Oct 13 '18 at 22:57
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    @CanadianYankee eh, stop kvetching. It wasn't meant to be a complete list. What a pain in the tochas. :) – Andrew Oct 14 '18 at 19:46
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There are a lot of words of Yiddish origin that have moved over into AmE speech in certain geographical areas and social groups.

Common ones include: schmear (schmeer or shmeer, see below), spiel (a story, as in invented story or tale), schlep (lug things around) and nosh (to snack). There are also some common insults like: putz and schmuck. Schmear (schmeer) is a verb. Please see below. Many are very funny.

A shmuck is an "unintentional jerk" whereas a schmendrik is a "deliberate" one. shmuck is very common today. Click on the Jewish Lexicon link below and search for it.

New York and its burroughs are where one hears a lot of this usage. One recent example was the current (orange-haired man) president (who is not at all Jewish but comes from New York City), who actually referred to a politician being "schlonged". I knew the word but had never heard it used as a verb. Many people unfamiliar with the term didn't even realize how funny it was. It means penis, and he meant it as "to be screwed" (to avoid using the four-letter word here).

EXAMPLE SENTENCES from the lexicon link below. "Let me schmear some sun tan lotion on myself." or" "I'll take a dozen plain bagels and one sesame bagel with a shmeer."

Please note: for a person from a non-Jewish origin such as myself, I take delight in these great words. There are found in the writings of such American Jewish writers as Isaac Bashevish Singer (Nobel Prize for Literature,1978) and Saul Bellow. Many of the terms are rather funny (haha).

Here's a video of the "language of humor": Yiddish and comedy

Jewish Lexicon
see the creators of the lexicon

  • @jamesqf are you sure the schmuck hits aren't because that's the German word for jewelry? – DonQuiKong Oct 13 '18 at 17:15
  • @DonQuiKong I agree with jamesqf. I'm Jewish and I've always heard it pronounced and spelled as he says. – Barmar Oct 13 '18 at 17:41
  • @Barmar I'm not saying it's wrong, but the argument with the google hits probably is – DonQuiKong Oct 13 '18 at 17:45
  • @DonQuiKong If you restrict it to "schmuck german" it's only 17 million. And all the top hits for "schmuck" are the Yiddish meaning. – Barmar Oct 13 '18 at 17:48
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    @DonQuiKong Are you German? Google tailors their results to the user. – Barmar Oct 13 '18 at 17:51

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