mayofes

Definitions

  • n. A servile person (see note below).

Example Sentences

  • "...they were timid and played a 'mayufes' piece and political schemes" (RIbak, "Gentile New York," p. 98).

Languages of Origin

  • Textual Hebrew
  • Yiddish

Etymology

  • מה יפית 'how beautiful,' the first words of the verse (Song of Songs 7:7)

    • Who Uses This

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

      Dictionaries

      • 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).

      Alternative Spellings

      mayufes, mayofesnik, mayufesnik

Notes

  • From Steinmetz ("Dictionary of Jewish Usage," p. 107): "According to legend, the Sabbath song ma yofis was sung with a special melody by Polish Jews, and the nobles they worked for would often request that the Jews sing ma yofis for their entertainment; hence 'to sing ma yofis' to a gentile came to mean to serve him obsequiously or slavishly." The Friday night melody was subsequently removed from the liturgy in many communities, because of its historical connotations. This is one of those words that are talked more *about* (in a meta-linguistic way, by people interested in Jewish language) than are actually used in conversation.

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