• n. A boiled, baked ring-shaped bread product.

  • n. A tennis set in which one of the players scored nothing (6-0).

  • v. Either trying to guess whether someone in your presence is Jewish or letting someone who appears to be Jewish know that you are too in a way that will avoid embarrassment if you’re wrong.

  • v. Inserting a Jewish phrase or concept into a conversation in order to indicate that one is Jewish or to determine whether the other person is Jewish.

  • v. Identifying another person as a Jew.

Example Sentences

  • "They served lox and bagels for breakfast after davening."

  • "I’m going to serve my opponent a bagel today." (source)

  • "I thought my seatmate might be Jewish, so I bagelled him by asking if he was headed home for the chagim."

  • "Will got bageled at the doctor's office; the doctor said that she was taking Rosh haShanah off, too."

Languages of Origin

  • Yiddish


  • בײגל beygl, related to Yiddish root בײג beyg 'bend, curve'
    The tennis sense of the word is derived from the resemblance between the digit '0' and a bagel [see notes].

    • 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]).
      • 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

      beygl, beigel


  • Plural "bagels," although the original Yiddish plural is beygl (same as singular).

    The Yiddish word beygl probably comes from Early New High German beugel, meaning pretzel.

    South African alternative definition: A materialistic, selfish young Jewish man, like American English JAP (source).

    See also bageling (bagel v.).

    Originally bagels were harder and denser and had a much larger hole. They changed in New York in the 1920s and came to be served with cream cheese and lox as a sign of upward mobility. See more at:
    Marx, Jeffrey A. 2017. “Eating Up: The Origins of Bagels and Lox.” In Tastes of Faith: Jewish Eating in the United States, edited by Steven J. Ross, Leah Hochman, and Lisa Ansell. Purdue University Press. 77–114.
    Gastropod. 2019. “The Bagelization of America.” Podcast.

    The tennis term was coined by Harold Solomon and popularized by Bud Collins.

    Doodie Miller, former Director of Operations at YU's University School Partnership, takes credit for inventing the term and maintains a web site about the concept, "The Bagel Theory" (source). Writer Jessica Levine Kupferberg popularized the concept in an article for "j. weekly" (source), in which she credited Miller. "Bageling" is also used in several other ways: to describe stockings (especially nylon panty hose) falling in circles around someone's ankles; a Japanese fad involving facial modification; the act of shopping for bagels or discussing the art of bagel making; in tennis, to be bageled is to lose a match without winning a game.

    You might, for example, bagel someone by suddenly clapping your hand to your cheek, as if you had just remembered something distressing, and saying, “Oy vey!” The bageled person might then say: A) “Oy vey is right — you don’t know what happened to me today” (mission accomplished); B) “Excuse me, but what did you say?” (To which you might answer, “Oh, I was just trying to remember the name of my mother-in-law’s dentist.”); C) nothing at all. Answer C would not definitely establish, of course, that you’re not talking to a Jew, but it would be a pretty good indication that if you are, he or she doesn’t think it’s any of your business.

    Simply stepping up to people on the street and asking them if they’re Jewish, as Chabad mitzvah peddlers often do, is thus not bageling at all in the true sense of the word. It’s far too direct.

    Read more below here: (source)

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