bubbe meise

Alternative Spellings

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

Definitions

  • "old wive's tale"; an untrue story, sometimes related to superstition
  • "Something of little importance, an inconsequential thing or minor happening." (JPS)

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." (http://www.nymf.org/Story-115.html)

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

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).
Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Popular Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).
JPS: The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001)

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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