Yiddish doesn’t have cuss words so Danny Thomas informed us when I was nine. It was my first language along with German spoken in the refugee camp. My father spoke Polish and Yiddish, my mother spoke Romania and Yiddish (and five other languages). I remember sitting in front of the large blond wood cabinet housing the television on Sunday nights. Ed Sullivan did his “and now Danny Thomas” who came on stage telling jokes. Really funny Jewish jokes even though he was Lebanese. He understood what it meant being an immigrant in a new land. My kind of guy.
He said if you wanted to cuss somebody out in Yiddish to say the following – “dee zolst vaksin vee a tzsibaleh mit dem kop in drayerd and di fees aroff.” Loosely translated – “you should grow like an onion with your head in the ground and your feet in the air.” I would get so excited I couldn’t sleep on Sunday night. A world-renowned man spoke Yiddish. I wasn’t strange, I could grow up and be someone important.
Many years later Jason walked into my office in Cleveland and said one of our sub-contractors had called him “mashuganeh.” He wanted to know what it meant. This was written for Jason after I told him mashuganeh meant crazy or nuts, depending.
The Yiddish “F” Words
Famished – (confused) when the vice president CFO (your boss) calls you into his office during lunch hour, shuts the door, shows you his new black camisole/with garter belt he has on under his clothes by unbuttoning his dress shirt and pulling up one of his pant legs revealing fishnet stockings.
Fashimilled – (covered with fungus) or how your head feels in the morning, after you’ve been drinking all night, i.e. you fell asleep in the forest without a compass (see fablongit).
Fadreit – (turned around) or your face is facing forward and your brain is facing backward. You know when you’re three and your older brother starts spinning you around while all the other siblings clap and cheer; you are so cute till you fall over.
Fakacked – (covered in dung) how you feel after you’ve been cleaning up dog poop in your backyard from six chows because you couldn’t bring yourself to sell the puppies – Rachel, Rebecca, and Benjamin. No one could take as good care of them as you – or maybe that’s just foolish in English.
Famacht – (closed) you drive forever with the map light on (of course there’s enough gas to go another 10 miles) and when you finally arrive at the Texaco (where you have a credit card you can use), the light is on but the station closed at 11 pm and it’s 11:09.
Fablongit – (lost) lost in the forest without a compass. Need I say more?
Faklemped – (full of pride) when you spend five hours trying to teach your new puppy how to pee outside in the yard, you have pieces of cut up hotdogs in your wet pocket, the puppy finally gets it, and you can go inside and change your pants.
All rights reserved. ©1998 by Sara Fryd