Alternative Spellings

shlemiel, shlimiel, shlemeil, schlemiel, schlemeel


  • idiot; contemptible person. "Clumsy, bungling person." (Steinmetz)

Example Sentences

  • "He missed the bus--twice! What a shlemiel!"

Languages of Origin



שלומיאל shlumiel

Who Uses This

Jews: Jews of diverse religious backgrounds and organizational involvements
Older: Jews who are middle-aged and older
Non-Jews: (words that have spread outside of Jewish networks)


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 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).

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