Alternative Spellings

schmatter, schmutter, shmata, shmate, shmatta, shmatte, shmattah, shmatteh


  • rag, old/ragged piece of clothing, garment

Example Sentences

  • "Morrie on Cheapside made a killing as a schmutter dealer. He sold thousands of woolen jumpers."
  • "You just need to use a schmata, soap and water to clean your floors, nothing fancy."

Languages of Origin



שמאַטע shmate 'rag'

Who Uses This

Jews: Jews of diverse religious backgrounds and organizational involvements


North America, Great Britain


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)


Used in the expressions "The shmatta industry" and "shmatta district" (marks "garment" as Jewish). By extension, this word can be used as an insulting descriptor for a person with whom someone is having an affair: "You're nothing; you're just his schmatah!" or "If I see or hear or smell something of hers in this house or on you ever again, that's it -- you can have your schmatah and give me the get!"

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