Alternative Spellings

batlen, botlan, botlen, batlanim, batlonim, batlonem


  • "Someone without a trade or regular means of livelihood" (Rosten).
  • "An unemployed or lazy man" (Rosten).
  • "A misfit, such as a Talmud student of no promise" (Rosten).
  • "Someone with intellectual pretensions and half-baked ideas" (Rosten).
  • "naive, impractical person" (Steinmetz)
  • "Layabout" (Glinert)
  • "One who consistently wastes time: Bum, Fainéant" (Weiser).

Example Sentences

  • "That doctor treated me like a batlen and won't tell me a thing!" (Rosten)
  • "The Talmud says that every Jewish community must contain ten batlonim—that is, ten men who, since they do not work, can devote all their time to prayer and study." (Rosten)
  • "If you ask me, the whole board should resign—they're a bunch of batlanim." (Glinert)
  • "They didn't let him stay in the Yeshiva because he was, plain and poshut, a Baltan." (Weiser)

Languages of Origin

Textual Hebrew, Yiddish


Yiddish בטלן batlen, from Hebrew בטל batel 'nullify'

Who Uses This

Orthodox: Jews who identify as Orthodox and observe halacha (Jewish law)
Ashkenazim: Jews with Ashkenazi heritage


North America


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 Joys of Hebrew, by Lewis Glinert (New York, 1992).
Frumspeak: The First Dictionary of Yeshivish, by Chaim Weiser (Northvale, 1995).


sg. batlan, pl. batlanim

Edit     See something you disagree with? Feel free to edit it. All changes will be moderated.