Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


or schlemihl, shlemiel

[shluh-meel] /ʃləˈmil/
noun, Slang.
an awkward and unlucky person for whom things never turn out right.
Origin of schlemiel
1890-95; < Yiddish shlemil < Hebrew shəlumīʾēl Shelumiel, a Biblical and Talmudic figure Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for schlemiel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Ever since Gifkin leaves us, y'understand, we got in our cutting room one schlemiel after another.

    Elkan Lubliner, American Montague Glass
British Dictionary definitions for schlemiel


(US, slang) an awkward or unlucky person whose endeavours usually fail
Word Origin
Yiddish, from German, after the hero of a novel by Chamisso (1781–1838)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for schlemiel

"awkward, clumsy person," 1868, from Yiddish shlemiel "bungler," from main character in A. von Chamisso's German fable "The Wonderful History of Peter Schlemihl" (1813), probably from Biblical name Shelumiel (Num. i:6), chief of the tribe of Simeon, identified with the Simeonite prince Zimri ben Salu, who was killed while committing adultery. (cf. schlemazel).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for schlemiel



A stupid person; fool; oaf; esp, a naive person often victimized: Don't talk like a schlemiel, you schlemiel/ playing the lovable schlemiel to Brooklyn Jews

[1892+; fr Yiddish shlemiel, probably fr the name of the main character in A von Chamisso's German fable The Wonderful History of Peter Schlemihl, 1813]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for schlemiel

Word Value for schlemiel

Scrabble Words With Friends