"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).
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]