As we all know, the Yiddish language has no shortage of words that express a sort of fear, fright or discomfort! There’s a haunting but hilarious undertone to so many of our favorite Yiddish phrases and as we approach Halloween, a traditionally non-Jewish and unapologetically American holiday, we couldn’t help but explore some obvious overlap. So we dug up some Yiddish terms that fit in ever so frightfully with Halloween and hope you enjoy them as much as we’re about to enjoy the Halloween candy we bought in bulk at Costco last week.
To frighten, terrify or evoke fear.
Example:” The Haunted House, along with every story in the news, shrekn me to my core.”
A dybbuk is a malicious possessing spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person. Derived from the Hebrew word “Dibbūq” which means “the act of sticking,” the mythology behind the word says that the spirit supposedly leaves the host body once it has accomplished its goal.
Example: “We almost bought the house Upstate but had a sneaking suspicion there was a Dybbuk still lingering there. Anyway, it’s been condemned!”
An insult meaning “old witch.”
Example: “Try not to bother with the neighbor in 4-D … she’s an Alte Mkhshefe.”
Something haphazardly thrown together at the last minute or screwed up; that which looks like a hot mess.
“Me: I didn’t have time to run to the store this week so I just threw this little ongepotchket together today! You like?
Anyone at the Party: A Plus for effort, my dear.”
Now, Yiddish isn’t ALL about complaints and conspiracies. There are, of course, a few terms of endearment sewn into this playful Jewish language and for that, we’d like to honor one.
Delicious or tasty.
Example: “Confession … I had 4 Kit Kat bars, 3 Snickers and 2 Twix Bars last night after Trick or Treating. It was geshmak!”