nebbish

Definitions

  • n. Nerdy, clumsy, awkward person.

  • n. "An innocuous, ineffectual, weak, helpless, or hapless unfortunate." (Rosten)

Example Sentences

  • "Of course if she's really fallen for that nebbish, she won't listen to a thing you say." (Marge Piercy, Braided Lives)

  • "In that fancy restaurant, they gave him the table next to the bathroom and he didn't say anything. That nebbish!" (JPS)

  • "You can be a neb for divorce, infertility, poverty, disability, ugliness or any number of reasons. Let's brainstorm how to recognize that a neb is still a Tzelem Elokim." (source)

Languages of Origin

  • Yiddish

Etymology

  • נעבעך nebekh

    • Who Uses This

      • Jews: Jews of diverse religious backgrounds and organizational involvements
      • Older: Jews who are middle-aged and older
      • Non-Jews: (words that have spread outside of Jewish networks)
      • 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).
      • 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

      nebish, nebbech, nebuch, nebech, nebach, nebish

Notes

  • While this word may be borrowed from Western Yiddish "nebish" (Steinmetz, p. 182), it also possible that it is Eastern Yiddish "nebekh," which underwent sound change in English.

    Often clipped to neb.

    See also nebach.

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