The amateur etymologist in me enjoyed this piece on the genesis of the Yiddish term shmendrick in the April issue of Moment:
The shmendrick is the nincompoop of Yiddish lore, a pipsqueak. A synonym for a hopelessly neurotic bumbler, this brand of shmendrick has become an archetype of American entertainmentâ€”think Jerry Lewis in The Bellboy, or Woody Allen inâ€¦ well, most anything before 1998.
But the roots of this character lie in another form of entertainment: Yiddish theater. More specifically, the word can be traced back to the work of Abraham Goldfaden, a 19th-century poet and songwriter with a preternatural talent for verse.