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


7 Answers 7


"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?

  • 7
    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, 2010 at 16:55
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    +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, 2011 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, 2011 at 17:13
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    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, 2011 at 7:48
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    @Mark, Lamed-Heh-Dalet-Mem. If I claim you owe me money, you can respond Lo Hayu Dvarim MeOlam -- no such thing ever happened. Abbreviated "lahadam." Hence, "to lahadam."
    – Shalom
    Nov 28, 2011 at 13:02

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!

  • The book is interesting and humorous too. Though as a person who has studied linguistics, I question the author's premise that Yeshivish is a language.
    – DanF
    Feb 6, 2018 at 18:04





"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.

  • 1
    For "not shayach", I prefer "infeasible" to "impossible."
    – Shalom
    Jun 11, 2010 at 17:31

The yiddish word bavoren/bavorenin as in:

Rashi already bavorened that kasha (question).

it would translate to:

Rashi preempted that question (by stating something that resolves the potential question, without actually specifying that he intends to answer a question).

(In my Yiddish dictionary, it's translated as "a security" - in this context, it means that one secured himself against a particular question by preempting it.)


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.

  • 1
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    – Isaac Moses
    Sep 14, 2011 at 1:20

The review of the Book Frumspeak has a good example of many untranslated words so far:

This is a gevaldike sefer, and I got asach hanaa from it. The etzem dictionary is gantz useful for talmidim of the shprach, and it's also geshmak to stam read through, which is a big toeles.

The hakdoma, on the metzius of yeshivish, is tief, and the other shticklach at the haschala (including a translation of Hamlet's soliloquy) are peledik. I mamish hold of this sefer.

In English that would read something like:

This is an amazing book, and I got a lot of benefit from it. The actual dictionary is very useful for students of the language, and it's also enjoyable to just plain read through, which is a big worthwhile accomplishment.

The preface, on the reality of Yeshivish is deep and the other small discussions at the beginning (including a translation of Hamlet's soliloquy) are amazing. I really approve of* this book.

*This one is an interesting case, as it is basically transforming the Yiddish to English but still keeping the Yiddish idiom; "hold of" is either approve of, follow or agree with.

(This translation prefers to keep the sentence structure rather than be grammatically proper).

  • Now I can't get this song out of my head :-(
    – Yishai
    Jan 29, 2015 at 20:43
  • I had that song in my head even before you posted it. :P
    – Scimonster
    Jan 30, 2015 at 11:11

Le'maiseh, it's not mistaber.

For all practical intents and purposes, it doesn't make sense

It's a shver sugya to discuss with my shver.

It's a difficult topic to discuss with my father in law.

B'kitzur, the whole matzav is nisht poshut.

In short, the whole situation is not simple.

Altz list question, I think this question is on topic. Ubber, altz related to Judaism, I'm not so sure.

In terms of (or as a function of) list question, I think this question is on topic. But, in terms of related to Judaism, I'm not so sure.

  • 3
    Ich veis nisht, but I'd taina that it's mashma from your lushen that you made a tzu shtel between shver and shver, that they're takka the zelba zach. (Grahde, that's a bavuste tzu shtel altz the homophony). Be'emes, there's no kesher zu eitzel zu. Avada you should delete this altz shidduchim, otherwise Google cache will zicher bahlt chap it ois. +1
    – Fred
    Jan 30, 2015 at 3:26
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    @Fred Boruch Hashem my shver holds shtark that the internet is a treife zach and won't know about this whole shakla v'tarya. Jan 30, 2015 at 4:17

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