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How to kvell in Yiddish

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10/11/2011

First off, the word is “kvell”—one syllable, like “swell.” Second, there is one expression, “to kvell,” and another, “to schep nachas”; one does not “kvell nachas.” Good, good… Now we are ready to learn how to tell people that, as the Torah puts it, they have found favor in our eyes:

Aidel—refined: “The princess is so aidel; how could anyone have called her a ‘commoner’?”

Chidush—innovation: “This odometer app is a real chidush; it totally changed my workout!”

Farbrent—intense: “I’ve never seen a bar mitzvah so farbrent over a tikkun olam project.”

Ferpitzed—dressed up: “Hoo-hah! Look at my little girl… all ferpitzed for the prom!”

Note: not to be confused with “fertootsed”:  over-dressed, overdone 

Freylach—festive: “A reggae band for a wedding? Well, it’ll keep things freilach!”

Ganef—clever one: My eight-year-old hacked the Wii to play my old Atari games, the ganef.”

Note: The original meaning is “thief,”so be clear you do not intend an insult. 

Gebenshed—blessed: “I heard your family is gebenshed with a new addition— Mazel tov!”

Gefelt—pleasing: “That white-noise generator is so gefelt— I love the ‘ocean’ setting.”

Geshmack—lip-smacking: “The guacamole there is geshsmack, and the burritos are great, too.”

Gezunt—robust: “That linebacker can eat a whole pizza and not show it, he’s so gezunt.”

Hano’oh—pleasure: “I get such hano’oh from my Mother’s Day bath beads, thanks so much.”

Heymish—homey: “I love how heymish these throw pillows make your studio apartment feel.”

Khap—insight: “What a khap, letting the kids dunk their veggies in ketchup.”

Kitsel—tickle: “That comic strip always gives me a good kitsel.”

Leibedikeh—lively: “Bubbie’s been feeling much more leibedikeh with her new hip.”

Lechen-di-finger—finger-licking: “This sauce! I just want to drink it, it’s so lechen-di-finger.”

Mamash—indeed: “Not too hot, no breeze, no clouds… this is mamash a day for golf.”

Mechayeh—a joy: “Your puppy is so friendly and bright— what a mechayah!”

Noch-amol—Encore!:  “Come on, noch-amol— one more strike and he’s outta there!”

Oht azoy—You got it, baby!: “Now that’s what a guitar is for! Oht azoy… play that thing!”

Richtiker cheifetz—the real deal: “My Dad had the richitker cheifetz... a cherry red, ’57 Caddy.”

Yasher-ko’ach—Nice job!: “Yasher-koach on winning that sales contest!”

Zies (rhymes with “peace”)—sweet: “A candlelight dinner for my birthday? You are so zies!”

Next: Ess, ess! How to Eat in Yiddish 

Correction to the “How to Kvetch” article. “Farblonget” means “lost, aimless,” not “blugeoned” as I had written. 

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