On the dailywritingtips.com site, I came across the page related to the adoption of the Yiddish words in the English language -- in American English mostly, I assume.

Since the meanings of all those words are explained quite clearly, I need neither examples of their usage nor situations where they may be used. The link to the web page is attached just so that those who might feel like answering could see what exactly I'm asking about.

My questions are these:

Are some words of the Yiddish origin really commonly used in colloquial speech in (some parts of) the USA?

With regard to your personal experience and the place of residence, what several words of the said origin are, in your opinion, worth being taken note of and remembered as widely (relatively) used in informal interaction, in books, movies, radio shows, etc?

Footnote: This is the edited version of the question which was put on hold some time ago. Before that, it had gotten one good answer and a couple of very helpful comments. I'd very much like to have some more, so any help will be highly appreciated.

  • Would the one who downvoted the question kindly give the reason for doing it other than having no answer to it? I don't think any anonymous unfriendly action needs either knowledge or courage. – Victor B. Jul 12 '16 at 15:35
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    As a former New Yorker, I am pretty confident in saying that the usage of Yiddish words in English is not heard very frequently outside of New York, Florida, and California. – Cascabel Jul 12 '16 at 16:57
  • I didn't downvote, but answers to the first two questions will be opinion-based (you could ask this about any word list), and will vary by individual (polling or list questions are generally discouraged on SE). The third is really a linguistic question, but again would likely generate a list. You really need to narrow down specific questions related to your topic. – user3169 Jul 12 '16 at 17:02
  • @user3169: As it is, I found no way to asking the third question missing the first and second ones. As for the link to the list, I just felt like showing what exactly I was asking about. As far I can see, the question has received some attention to be answered and commented on, so its being downvoted from scratch sort of puzzled me. Thanks a lot for your kind explanation — sure thing, it's been taken note of. – Victor B. Jul 12 '16 at 17:42
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    I thought it was a good question. Those who closevoted on the grounds that it was "too broad" may have thought you wanted us to comment on all 40 words. However, I didn't read it that way at all; I regarded it as a learner inquiring about how much those words were or were not immediately-recognized by a wide audience. That can be answered in a very general sense. I can see why the article's title ("40 Words You Should Know") could be misleading. Lastly, I think the question is presented very well. As for the downvote, well, oy vey! – J.R. Jul 12 '16 at 21:28

I can only speak for myself.

Yiddish words are more commonly used, unsurprisingly, where there is or used to be a large population of Yiddish speakers. In America, this usually means the states near New York. Also, many words in show business are of Yiddish origin, due to a large proportion of Jews which worked in it early in the century.

Many of the words they present in You Should Know are definitely not common and are probably best known among Ashkenazi Jews themselves. However, as someone who grew up in New Jersey and now lives in Philadelphia here are words I would use:

goy (only when referencing gentiles in the context of Judaism)
kosher (in the literal and metaphorical sense)
oy vey

I think we need more answers from people to get a better sense of what Yiddish words people know, especially non-US speakers. I have a feeling that for BE and AuE a lot of the words Americans know would be confusing.

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    As a footnote, I think some of these are fairly well-known, even outside the geographic region you mention (e.g., glitch, klutz, schmuck, and schmooze, and maybe even shtick). A couple others (like yenta and Mazol Tov people might remember from Fiddler on the Roof. However, I agree with you: there are more than a couple on that list that I would not consider to be common, everyday American parlance. – J.R. Jul 12 '16 at 15:56
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    Your answer is very good; I would only caution that I think Yiddish is less widely understood than we tend to think. Years ago, I saw a short video on Yiddish words in English, in which an interviewer asked people around the US if they knew the word "schlep" (it was shown to them written down) and how to use it in a sentence. It amazed me how many people looked at it and said "shelp" and had no idea how to use it. (My favorite was the Texan who said, "I schlep in this room last night.") Nu, you can't expect the goyim to fershtey all this narishkeit anyway... – stangdon Jul 12 '16 at 16:41
  • @stangdon I vividly remember my vain attempt to explain the distinction between "putz" and "schmuck" to a Methodist. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Jul 12 '16 at 23:36
  • If we need to take a survey to have a complete answer, this isn't really a question for the SE model. If someone wanted to create a survey on survey monkey or some similar site to see which words that we are familiar with, I would take the survey. We would probably want to link it in chat though, and not on the main site. – ColleenV Jul 13 '16 at 14:55

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