[shvahr-tsuh; English shvahrt-suh]

noun Yiddish: Often Disparaging.

a term used by some Jewish people to refer to a black person.

Nearby words

  1. schutzstaffel,
  2. schuyler,
  3. schuyler, philip john,
  4. schuylerville,
  5. schuylkill,
  6. schwa,
  7. schwaben,
  8. schwachman syndrome,
  9. schwag,
  10. schwalbe's ring

Also shvartze, schvartz·er [shvahr-tsuhr; English shvahr-tser] /ˈʃvɑr tsər; English ˈʃvɑr tsər/.

Usage note

Schvartze was used through the 1960s (and even later by the older generation) to refer specifically to a black housekeeper or servant. The term was not always used contemptuously; in fact, the Yiddish noun is derived from a merely descriptive adjective meaning "black" (German schwarz ). However, schvartze has been categorized by some as an inside “code word,” a less transparent equivalent of nigger, and so the term has fallen into disrepute. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Word Origin and History for schvartze



also schvartzer, "black person" (somewhat derogatory), 1961, Yiddish, from schvarts "black" (see swarthy). Perhaps originally a code word to refer to black servants when they were within earshot, as German cognate Schwarze appears to have been used mid-19c.:

In Baltimore in the 80s of the last century, the German-speaking householders, when they had occasion to speak of Negro servants in their presence, called them die Blaue (blues). In the 70s die Schwartze (blacks) had been used, but it was believed that the Negroes had fathomed it. [H.L. Mencken, "The American Language," Supplement I, 1945]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper