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Does anyone ever have trouble finding good English translations of certain yeshivish phrases, especially when in conversation with someone who would not understand the original?

Post your favorite phrases and English translations below.

"l'mai nafka mina?" -> "What is the practical difference?"

"kal v'chomer" -> "all the more so"

"dafka" -> ?? I always want to say this in conversation but don't know how.

"mamash" -> ditto

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see amazon.com/gp/product/1568216149 –  Ariel K Dec 8 '11 at 0:18

4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

"I davka haven't seen that movie."

I purposely haven't seen that movie.


I specifically have NOT seen that movie.

"He doesn't eat peanut butter, b'shita"

He doesn't eat peanut butter, on principle. (or "as a matter of principle").

"Mamash" in proper Hebrew usage should translate as "tangible"; that works sometimes.

"He's mamash the biggest masmid I've ever seen"

He's seriously / honestly the most diligent student I've ever seen.

Or if we allow a sacrifice to colloquial usage and disregard proper grammar,

He's literally the most diligent student I've ever seen.

Unless you're a valley girl, (California yeshivish?) in which case it's:

He's like, totally the most diligent dude I've, like, ever seen.

"Aderaba / pum fakert, summer is the BEST time for holding by cholent."

On the contrary (or au contraire), summer is the best time to be in the mood for stew.

(The prescriptivist squad tells me this is supposed to be punkt fakert, but I'm writing them as I normally hear them.)

"Shaychus?!" (Best asked with a bewildered look on one's face.)


"He is takke matir"

He in fact allows it ; or As a matter of fact, he allows it.

"He lahadam'd the whole parsha"

He flat-out denied the entire incident.

"The gantza inyan is a shtickel shvach"

The whole notion is a bit weak.

"Is it davka this maysa, or is he stam azoi a macha'os-dika guy?"

Is it specifically this episode, or is he more generally a protest-loving kind of person?

"His svora is (mamash) gishmack."

His logical argument is (totally) cool.

"Was there ever a havamina (hava amina) that the shidduch was shayach? Or that he'd become a chosson?"

Was there ever the slightest notion that they'd make a feasible couple? Or that he'd get engaged?

"For me you opened the door? Shkoyach!"

You opened the door for me? Thank you!

"Is there an inyan of wearing a hat and jacket?"

Is it of halachic value to wear a hat and jacket?

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Actually, it's not "pum fakert," it's "punkt fahrkert," with "punkt" being the Yiddish word for "exactly." If you are Galatzianish/Chassidish, it's pronounced "pinkt." –  Ariel Jun 8 '10 at 16:55
+1 for: "Unless you're a valley girl, (California yeshivish?) in which case it's: He's like, totally the most diligent dude I've, like, ever seen. " –  Menachem Sep 12 '11 at 22:53
The word "takke" I think is better translated as "indeed". Translating "in fact" to Yeshivish would yield "In emess'n arein." –  Barry Sep 13 '11 at 17:13
What's "lahadam'd" in "He lahadam'd the whole parsha"? Can you write the Hebrew? I can't figure out how to pronounce it or where it comes from. –  Mark Nov 28 '11 at 7:48
Thanks @Shalom. Never heard that one before. –  Mark Nov 28 '11 at 13:47

The definitive work on this topic is Frumspeak, by Chaim Weiser. You might also find the Wikipedia entry on Yeshivish to be enlightening, and perhaps humorous too!

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"It was bizyonos"

It was embarrassing (Givaldiger bizyonos would be greatly embarrassing. Are you catching on?)

"I can't be masig why he'd do such a thing."

I can't fathom why he'd do such a thing.

"Lchoyra it was because it wasn't shayach."

Presumably, it was because it wasn't possible.

"Meheicha Teisa you should get the shteller?"

(lit.) Where did you get it from (or - loosely translated) Why would you think you should get the position?

It's gradder a gantz feiner yeshiva.

It's actually/in fact a pretty good yeshiva.

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For "not shayach", I prefer "infeasible" to "impossible." –  Shalom Jun 11 '10 at 17:31

The cool speak for see you later is shpayterz. A bit like laterz. Shpayter is yiddish for later. Hence proper yiddish gangster talk.

Also, the traditional greeting is "A giten" to which you can respond "A giten", "A besseren" or if you're feeling a little peeved, "An ergeren". Which transalate as "A good one", "A better one" and "A worse one" respectively.

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Choimshy, welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks for this contribution! Please consider registering your account, to help the site keep track of your contributions no matter where you log in from. –  Isaac Moses Sep 14 '11 at 1:20

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