chutzpah

Definitions

  • n. Guts (positive).

  • n. Nerve, audacity, the quality of over-stepping boundries with no shame (negative).

Example Sentences

  • "He had a lot of chutzpah telling the professor that his statement was false."

Languages of Origin

  • Textual Hebrew
  • Yiddish
  • Modern Hebrew

Etymology

  • Heb חוצפה chutspa, Yiddish חוצפּה khutspe

    • Who Uses This

      • Jews: Jews of diverse religious backgrounds and organizational involvements
      • Non-Jews: (words that have spread outside of Jewish networks)

      Regions

      • North America

      Dictionaries

      • The New Joys of Yiddish, by Leo Rosten and Lawrence Bush (New York, 2003[1968]).
      • Yiddish and English: A Century of Yiddish in America, by Sol Steinmetz (Tuscaloosa, 1986).
      • The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001).
      • The Joys of Hebrew, by Lewis Glinert (New York, 1992).
      • Frumspeak: The First Dictionary of Yeshivish, by Chaim Weiser (Northvale, 1995).
      • Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Popular Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).

      Alternative Spellings

      hutzpah, chutspa, khuptspe, hutzpa, hutspa, chutzpa

Notes

  • Originally it had only negative connotations, but on the influence of English "nerve," it came to have positive or negative connotations (see Gold 1985, p. 289).

    Leo Rosten, Joys of Yiddish: "Gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible 'guts'; presumption plus arrogance such as no other word, and no other language, can do justice to. The classic definition of chutzpa is, of course, this: Chutzpa is that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan."

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