Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Word of the Day from shemozzle

• shemozzle •

 Pronunciation: shê-mah-zêl • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A noisy row, a loud argument, a yelling match. 2. A mess, a confused, muddled situation, a shambles.

Notes: Don't be misled by the beginning of this word: men are just as likely to be involved in a shemozzle as a woman. You can, however, use the pronoun she as a mnemonic device for remembering how the word is spelled. Todays word is related to schlemiel "a jerk" and schlimazel "a loser with no luck", which is the same word as today's in a different guise. According to Leo Rosten (Hooray for Yiddish!), if a waiter spills the soup he is carrying, he is a schlemiel; the person who gets it down the neck is a schlimazel.

In Play: Basically, a shemozzle is a noisy argument: "When Lenny came home at 2 AM last night we heard a big shemozzle next door." However, it also works to express a shambles, a word sharing quite a few sound similarities, too: "We haven't had any big corporate shemozzles since the Enron-WorldCom era."

Word History: Today's Good Word entered British slang at the end of the 19th century as schlemozzel from Yiddish shlim mazel "rotten luck, a person with rotten luck". Shlim came to Yiddish from German schlimm "bad", and mozzle is Hebrew mazzal "luck". This latter word, spelled differently, also appears in the Yiddish toast, Mazel tov!, from Hebrew mazzal tov "congratulations" from mazzal "luck" + Hebrew tob "good". So, whether you are a schlemiel or a schlimazel, or involved in a shemozzle, the staff at alphaDictionary wishes you, Mazel tov!

The situation in Isreal is well past the shemozzle stage and is now an all out war!


  1. >>>So, whether you are a schlemiel or a schlimazel, or involved in a shemozzle,<<<

    Hey!  Now I FINALLY know what they're saying in the Laverne & Shirley theme song.  "Schlemiel, shchlimazel..."  (now, how does the rest of that sentence go?)


  2. I know this is a serious shemozzel in Israel, and I pray that it will end soon, and hezhollah will be no more- but can I say something?  As soon as I started reading this, I couldn't help but think of Laverne and Shirley.  Sorry!!!  Love Carolyn

  3. Wasn't this word used in the beginning of Laverne & Shirley, when they were walking down the street saying the little rhymn together???!!  Any way, if it is, I always wondered what it was, and now I know.  I think.  LOL   -  Barbara

  4. OK, I learned something today. I thought that shemozzle was just something for Laverne and Shirley to rhyme in their song. Regards, Bill.