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Schvitzing and Schlepping

July 5, 2009

It occurred to me that I haven’t given a Yiddish lesson in awhile. And since summer is upon us, and I will hopefully be moving soon, the two most-likely-to-be-uttered words are going to be “schvitzing” and “schlepping.” So that you can follow along with my exciting travels, a brief lesson may be in order.

Schvitz Essentially, “sweat.” But it’s so much more than sweat. You can be schvitzing after a good workout, or just stand outside and schvitz, especially if it’s hot out. Since Jews aren’t really known for their athletic prowess (apologies to Sandy Koufax), generally – we just schvitz if the air conditioner isn’t working. I assume the Orthodox Jews are always schvitzing with the big black hats and the caftans.  Also, you can go take a schvitz. Old people don’t pretend to go to fancy spas and “infuse therapeutic oils into virgin cedar.” They go take a schvitz with the boys. Personally, I hate to schvitz. I will do almost anything to avoid it and yet – in the summer? I pretty much melt.


Schlep Thanks to “The Great Schlep,” I think Sarah Silverman may have gotten this one covered, but because it’s one of my most-oft used words (“oy” excluded). By definition it means “to lug” but it’s so much more fun to say. I can schlep stuff up stairs, I can schlep myself to work in the morning, and sometimes – I can even look like a schlep. I am somewhat struggling on how to describe this state of being. A person can look like a schlep and be a “a schlepper” if they kinda look like a sack of potatoes, or that they are just schlepping themselves along. Sometimes, if I am just schlepping around town, doing errands – or maybe going to the beach (can’t avoid schvitzing there!) and need to carry everything, I will grab a “schlep bag” – some kind of “blah” bag to carry all my stuff. It probably has a bit of schmutz on it.

Bonus points if any non-native speakers can add these words to their vocabulary. And hopefully soon (too nervous to blog about it until the lease is signed) I will be able to write endlessly about my new apartment, and how annoying it is to schlep everything around by myself until Frank gets home, and how schvitzy I am going to be, moving at the end of August.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 6, 2009 10:13 am

    loving this post. by the way, I use more yiddish than I thought I did. And bonus, I’m using it all correctly!!!! I wonder where I’ve picked it all up??? anyway, thanks for the lessons.

  2. July 6, 2009 10:41 am

    My mom has used “schlep” as long as I can remember, and she passed it on down to me. Odd, because we’re not Jewish. Nor did my mom grow up in a Jewish neighborhood…so where she picked it up, I have NO idea.

  3. July 6, 2009 11:24 am

    I gotta schlep myself out of bed, but first I had to read this.

    I hope today isn’t too hot, otherwise I will definitely be schvitzing, which I hate. Oy!


  4. July 6, 2009 5:17 pm

    Funny, those are already well ingrained into my vocabulary. I think I got schlepped around by a lot of schvitzing parents as a child. I should see what kid of reaction the Aussies have to those.

  5. Lisamarie permalink
    January 26, 2011 1:13 pm

    Hey, I’m German and I think it’s quite funny because those two words are german, they mean exactly the same over here. Do you actually use them in ordonary life? Are they popular? 🙂

    • January 26, 2011 1:46 pm

      Guten tag! A lot of Yiddish is based on German words, so I’m not shocked that they mean exactly the same thing! 🙂 I definitely use them in ordinary life, but I don’t know if they are “popular.” I think they are with old Jewish grannies and people who like Seinfeld!


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