shvartsa

Pronunciations

shvartse (SHVAR-tzeh) listen

Definitions

  • n. Black person (offensive).

  • n. Cleaning person (offensive).

Example Sentences

  • "It was reported that comic Jackie Mason referred to President Obama as a "schwartze" (phonetically, shvartza), angering sophisticated Jews in his audience who knew that the Yiddish term for black inserted in an otherwise all-English conversation is always meant to be derogatory, and is akin to the "N" word. Mason insisted the word isn't demeaning." (source)

  • "There she was, twenty-five years old, raising three kids, slaving like a shvartsa to keep a clean house" (Weekend, by Tania Grossinger and Andrew Niederman, 1980, p. 45)

Languages of Origin

  • Yiddish

Etymology

  • שװאַרץ shvarts 'black', (שװאַרצער shvartser is masculine, singular, nominative; שװאַרצע shvartse is feminine singular or plural for all genders; Jewish English can use -e ending regardless of gender)

    • Who Uses This

      • Orthodox: Jews who identify as Orthodox and observe halacha (Jewish law)
      • Older: Jews who are middle-aged and older
      • Ashkenazim: Jews with Ashkenazi heritage

      Regions

      • North America
      • Great Britain
      • South Africa

      Dictionaries

      • The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001).

      Alternative Spellings

      schwarze, shvartsa, shvartza, shvartze, schwartze, schwartza

Notes

  • Often considered offensive in English because of its usage (sometimes) as a racist slur equivalent to the n-word. Outside of conversation between Yiddish speakers, the word is seldom used neutrally.

    Sometimes used by Haredim in Israel to refer to other Haredim (because of the men's black suits and black hats).

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