bubbe meise

Definitions

  • n. "Something of little importance, an inconsequential thing or minor happening." (JPS)

  • n. "Old wive's tale"; an untrue story, sometimes related to superstition.

Example Sentences

  • "Stop complaining about how much trouble it was to return this sweater. What a bubbe meise." (JPS)

  • "All the stuff about the oil lasting eight days is just a bubbe meise. What really happened is written down in the Book of Maccabees." (source)

Languages of Origin

  • Textual Hebrew
  • Yiddish

Etymology

  • באָבע־מעשׂה bóbe-mayse 'tall tale'

    • Who Uses This

      • Older: Jews who are middle-aged and older
      • Ashkenazim: Jews with Ashkenazi heritage

      Regions

      • North America
      • South Africa

      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).
      • Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Popular Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).

      Alternative Spellings

      bobe mayse, bubbe mayseh, bubbe-meise, bubbe-meiseh, bubbe-myseh

Notes

  • Despite the common assumption that this comes from באָבע bobe, Yiddish for "grandmother," it actually stems from בבֿא־בוך Bove-Bukh, a Yiddish romantic epic published in 16th-century Italy (and the term is sometimes spelled בבֿא־מעשׂה).

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