When it comes to a witty putdown, no one does it quite like Jewish people.
The Yiddish language is a rich and colorful linguistic world, deliciously descriptive and packed with witty one-liners and searing sideswipes. And in the Jewish language, no one gets away with it – from boring men and wicked women to fools, losers, and ugly brutes, everybody is fair game in the Jewish community.
Here are 40 of our favorite Yiddish insults. Use them at your own risk!
40 Best Yiddish Insults
A choleryeh af dir! – a curse on you! (literally, I hope you get cholera… oy! Be careful with this one! It’s pretty full on!)
Alter kocker – an old fart, basically an old-timer who’s out of touch and miserable.
Alter noyef – a dirty old man, lecherous, cringy or annoying. “Get away from me, you alter noyef!”
Balegula – a sloppy, uneducated person with no manners.
Balmalocha – an expert, but when said sarcastically it can be a great putdown… “wow, you made it all by yourself? What a balmalocha!”
Behaimeh – a dolt, a dull person lacking brains and vitality.
Big macher – a wheeler and dealer… can be used sarcastically…
“oy, some big macher you are, ey?”
Bulbenik – someone who always puts their foot in their mouth and says the wrong thing.
Chazir – a pig, someone who is greedy and gluttonous. “Hey, chazir, save some for the rest of us, will ya!”
Dorfying – a country bumpkin, someone who is uncultured and boorish.
Dummkopf – idiot, fool, literally translating as “dumb head” into English.
Farbissina punim – sour face, a miserable, grumpy person
Farmakh dos moyl! – literally translates as “shut your mouth!”
Farshtunken(e) – ‘stinking’… can apply to a person who literally stinks, or an object, as in “this Farshtunkene computer is too slow!”
Fershnickered – drunk… as in “are you fershnickered? I’d never go out with you!”
Fizeynish – an ugly brute, as in “have you seen her new boyfriend? He’s such a fizeynish!”
Fonferer – someone who talks a lot, but lies through their teeth. A swindler.
Golem or goylem – a little imp with no soul… a charmless person.
Gonif – a shady, untrustworthy person. “Don’t buy from him. He’s a gonif!”
Groyseh Macher – like big macher, this means ‘hot shot’… a great sarcastic putdown.
Hitziger – a hot-headed loose cannon, as in “calm down you hitziger!.” Note… this most likely won’t calm them down.
Kalike – a clumsy person with two left feet, as in “you dance like a kalike!”
Kibitzer – someone who’s always meddling and offering unwanted advice.
Kish mir in tuchas! – “kiss my ass!”
Klippeh – a nagging, mousy woman who won’t leave you alone.
Lemishkeh – a boring, uninteresting person… the kind you wish you didn’t invite to the party.
Lign in drerd un bakn beygl! – a Yiddish curse… “may you lay in the ground and bake bagels!” Seemingly more delicious than vicious, although this literally means “drop dead”, so…
Makhasheyfe – a grumpy old witch, often used to insult a mother-in-law.
Mamzer – a sneaky, lowdown person, literally a “bastard” in English.
Meeskite – ugly one, someone so ugly it hurts your eyes to look at them.
Nar – a fool, idiot, clown or crazy person. This one is more of a gentle putdown.
Nebbish – a loser, a nerd, a guy who’s always complaining.
No-goodnick – a ‘Yinglish’ expression, meaning a good-for-nothing.
Nudnik – an irritating, boring person, a pest, a nag.
Putz – an extremely annoying man, as in “he wouldn’t shut up, what a putz!”
Schlub – a clumsy, scruffy, sloppy oaf, with little to no manners.
Schlimazel – a clumsy loser who’s always doing things wrong.
Shlemiel – another word for a clumsy person who’s always having accidents.
Shmegegge – ah yes… my favourite Yiddish word to say. Pronounced ‘shme-GEG-ee’ it’s like a nitwit, a loser, an untalented nobody.
Schmuck – probably the most well-known Yiddish insult, a schmuck is like a loser, a jerk, an out-and-out fool. It’s generally pretty tame, but be careful who you call a schmuck… the old timers find it particularly offensive!