Thursday, May 5, 2011

Word of the Day: Nebbish

As you know, I'm driving cross-country at the moment. Driving all day, every day since Sunday morning is totally awesome. Not. Well, it mostly is, but after four days, I'm tired of it. I want to be in my new home already! But tonight, Wednesday night, I'm only 2 hours away from New York City, so I'll be home soon enough!

While driving, I listened to some old shiurim from Aish Audio. They're of varying quality, both in substance and recording. One interesting lecture talked a lot about nebbochs. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy the Yiddish words nebbish and nebboch (aka nebech). My friend Ilan taught me the word nebbish over Shabbos several months ago. He had a great way of defining it, but I don't think it works as well in writing. However, Southern speech has a great way of conveying the idea: "Bless his heart, he just tries so hard." Southerners are masters of "concerned criticism." If you are a visual learner, I suggest taking a walk down memory lane with Screech (Saved By the Bell) and Steve Urkell (Family Matters). 

Nebbish seems to be both an adjective and a noun, but nebboch seems to only be a noun. defines them as "A person, esp. a man, who is pitifully ineffectual, timid, or submissive." My favorite definition I discovered online was "a sad sack." If you're unimaginative, a nebboch is a perpetual loser.


  1. ha! the whole "bless his heart..." thing just cracks me up. It's an acceptable way of saying you're about to tear someone down to the core, but in a very polite way. lol

  2. Well, you obviously know what both nebbish and nerd mean. There is no substitute for personal experience.