Definition of Yiddish in English:



  • [mass noun] A language used by Jews in central and eastern Europe before the Holocaust. It was originally a German dialect with words from Hebrew and several modern languages, and still has some 200,000 speakers, mainly in the US, Israel, and Russia.

    ‘Faigele was mum's name in Yiddish’
    • ‘There are about half a million native speakers of Yiddish today.’
    • ‘He flicked a coin into the cup she was holding and exchanged greetings in Yiddish
    • ‘Original Yiddish was written in Hebrew letters and was a mixture of Hebrew, Slavic, and German.’
    • ‘Yiddish was a living language, pronounced with great expression and musical cadence.’
    • ‘German, Yiddish, Hebrew, and occasionally Arabic words fly through the air.’
    • ‘But unlike other dead languages, Yiddish - when it's sung - is much more conducive to dancing.’
    • ‘The theory was that Israeli is Yiddish with Hebrew words.’
    • ‘They spoke Yiddish mostly.’
    • ‘Jews tended to remain in certain residential areas, had their own system of education teaching Hebrew or Yiddish, and retained a distinctive socio-economic profile.’
    • ‘Chava Rosenfarb writes in Yiddish
    • ‘None could speak English, only Yiddish, and they never tried to learn the language, absorb the local culture or integrate with their hosts.’
    • ‘He was an educated man, who spoke ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, Yiddish, Torah and English.’
    • ‘She has taken to singing in Yiddish.’
    • ‘He strongly urged his fellow Jews to assimilate, so far as their religion would permit, into German culture and society, and to speak High German rather than Yiddish.’
    • ‘For more than a millennium, Yiddish was the language spoken by most European Jews.’
    • ‘Player-generated subtitles are also available in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Spanish.’
    • ‘Yiddish survives in music, poetry, literature, and even English.’
    • ‘In Buenos Aires, newspapers are published in English, Yiddish, German, and Italian.’
    • ‘He spoke in a jumble of Hebrew and Yiddish.’
    • ‘In addition to Aramaic, Raskas speaks Hebrew, German and Yiddish.’


  • Relating to Yiddish.

    ‘a Yiddish word’
    • ‘We have just bought the Yiddish book.’
    • ‘Yiddish play after Yiddish play tumbled from his pen, most of them about contemporary people and current dilemmas.’
    • ‘I adapted an old Yiddish joke, dating back to the 50's.’
    • ‘He has since been involved in Talmudic studies and enrolled in Yiddish courses.’
    • ‘I auditioned to join a Yiddish Theater in New York.’
    • ‘There was an old Yiddish song that summed up the feelings of Jews in such a society.’
    • ‘Orthodox Jews often use the Yiddish word shul to refer to their synagogue.’
    • ‘Like most Yiddish expressions, bashert is a tough word to translate.’
    • ‘The field of Yiddish studies today has changed.’
    • ‘Shortly after, Yiddish culture was to become a mere relic of Jewish life before the Holocaust.’
    • ‘My father painted scenery in the Yiddish theater.’
    • ‘The Yiddish schools I attended died, the Yiddish theater disappeared, the Yiddish press collapsed.’
    • ‘To be a Yiddish poet is to enter a curiously ambiguous position between tradition and private experience.’
    • ‘Three articles deal with different aspects of Yiddish theater.’
    • ‘A variety of local Yiddish newspapers could be found.’
    • ‘The article discusses the use of Yiddish words in judicial opinions.’
    • ‘My parents spoke Yiddish and read a Yiddish newspaper.’
    • ‘As the Yiddish saying goes, even the wealthiest man can't eat more than one dinner.’
    • ‘Officially, kvetch is a Yiddish word but New Yorkers have made it their own.’
    • ‘You know how to pronounce numerous Yiddish words and use them correctly in context.’


Late 19th century: from Yiddish yidish (daytsh) Jewish (German).