Oy, Such a Shmendrick!

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 entertainment—think Jerry Lewis in The Bellboy, or Woody Allen in… 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.

Read on

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