mayufes, mayofesnik, mayufesnik
- a servile person (see note below)
- "...they were timid and played a 'mayufes' piece and political schemes" (RIbak, "Gentile New York," p. 98).
Languages of Origin
Textual Hebrew, Yiddish
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
Yiddish and English: A Century of Yiddish in America, by Sol Steinmetz (Tuscaloosa, 1986).
Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).
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.
Edit See something you disagree with? Feel free to edit it. All changes will be moderated.