klezmer (KLEZ-mur) listen


  • n. "Eastern European style of instrumental music." (JPS)

Example Sentences

  • "They rock so hard. They play, like, funky klezmer music with a heavy bass." (comment on Balkan Beat Box)

Languages of Origin

  • Textual Hebrew
  • Yiddish


  • Heb כלי זמר kley zemer 'vessels of song' (i.e., 'instruments'), Yiddish כּלי־זמר / קלעזמער klezmer 'musician'

    • Who Uses This

      • Jews: Jews of diverse religious backgrounds and organizational involvements
      • Non-Jews: (words that have spread outside of Jewish networks)


      • North America
      • Great Britain
      • South Africa
      • Australia / New Zealand


      • 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).


  • The English meaning, referring to the genre or style of music, differs from the original Yiddish and ultimately from the Hebrew root words (see Etymology above).

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