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  • synonyms

schlemiel

or schle·mihl, shle·miel

[ shluh-meel ]
/ ʃləˈmil /
|
SEE MORE SYNONYMS FOR schlemiel ON THESAURUS.COM

noun Slang.

an awkward and unlucky person for whom things never turn out right.

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RELATED WORDS

dunce, stooge, sap, schmuck, dumbbell, idiot, nitwit, nincompoop, fool, goof, bungler, jerk, goon, dope, ninny, boob, blockhead, stupid, ignoramus, simpleton

Nearby words

schleicher, august, schleiden, schleiden, matthias jakob, schleiermacher, schlemazel, schlemiel, schlemm's canal, schlep, schleppy, schlesien, schlesinger

Origin of schlemiel

1890–95; < Yiddish shlemil < Hebrew shəlumīʾēl Shelumiel, a Biblical and Talmudic figure
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for schlemiel

  • The song ends up a hit, and the schlemiel has done it again.

    Fact Vs. Fiction in ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’: The Real Story of Folk is Far Less Dejected Than the Movie|Jimmy So|December 4, 2013|DAILY BEAST
  • Do you call an ineffectual, hapless person a schlemiel, a shlemel, a shlemyel, or a schlemeyel?

  • Based on the leaked reports, he said, “a schlemiel could have done this.”

    New Clue in Chasen Murder|A. L. Bardach|December 6, 2010|DAILY BEAST
  • Ever since Gifkin leaves us, y'understand, we got in our cutting room one Schlemiel after another.

British Dictionary definitions for schlemiel

schlemiel

schlemihl or shlemiel

/ (ʃləˈmiːl) /

noun

US slang an awkward or unlucky person whose endeavours usually fail

Word Origin for schlemiel

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

Word Origin and History for schlemiel

schlemiel


n.

"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