or schle·mihl, shle·miel
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
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for shlemiel
schlemihl or shlemiel
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
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Word Origin and History for shlemiel
"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