• n. A commiserating but useless bystander.

Example Sentences

  • “Dopes served a need for those who wanted a word to convey, with both precision and subtlety, a character type known in all cultures: the useless observer who, in a crisis, does nothing more than offer obligatory sympathy.” (NJY)

  • "The shlemiel, a Yiddish designation for a simpleton, is best portrayed by a waiter who spills a bowl of soup on a shlemazel, a hapless restaurant patron; the doppes, a commiserating bystander, communicates his dismay with the verbal expression 'tsk, tsk, tsk'; the shmegegee, a kind of graceless, petty individual, laughs at the scene; the shmendrick, often described as an unimpressive apprentice to the shlemiel, asks, 'What kind of soup was it?'; and the nudnik, the perennial annoyer, explains in excessive detail to a disinterested audience how the entire incident occurred." (source)

Languages of Origin

  • Yiddish


  • uncertain; perhaps a variant of טיפּש tipesh

    • Who Uses This

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


      • North America


      • The New Joys of Yiddish, by Leo Rosten and Lawrence Bush (New York, 2003[1968]).

      Alternative Spellings

      doppes, doppess, dopess, dopis, doppis, doppiss, dopiss

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