Scrabble Bingo of the Day: SHLEMIEL

SHLEMIEL

SHLEMIEL  63 points (11 points without the bingo)

Definition: an unlucky bungler [n]

Shlemiel is a Yiddish word that describes a clumsy, inept person by Jewish persons. The Yiddish language is a mix of German, Hebrew and Slavic languages, and was very common amongst Jews in central and eastern Europe before the Holocaust. It is still the vernacular of many Jews today, but mainly in Israel, Russia, and the United States, and usually in Orthodox Judaism, especially Hasidic Jews.

Yiddish contains a lot of shrewd words and phrases that tend to summarize things painfully well. Shlemiel is one, and goes hand in hand with another popular Yiddish word—shlimazel, which simply means an unlucky person. The main difference between a shlemiel and a shlimazel can be summed up with a few aphorisms:

  • "A shlemiel is somebody who often spills his soup; a shlimazel is the person the soup lands on." 
  • "A shlemiel drops it; a shlimazel picks it up."

Inflections: SHLEMIELS [pl.]
Also: SHLEMIEHL(S) [n/pl.]
Similar Words: SHLIMAZEL(S) [n/pl.]

Scrabble Bingo of the Day: SHLEMIEL Book cover for "When Shlemiel Went to Warsaw and Other Stories".
 Photo by Jewish Used Books

Scrabble Bingo of the Day: SHLEMIEL Poster in Yiddish from 1917.
 Photo by Library of Congress

So, just what is a Scrabble Bingo?

A bingo is when a player empties his or her rack in one turn, placing all seven of their letters on the board to create a word that's at least seven letters long. The term "bingo" is used primarily in the U.S., but elsewhere it's simply known as a "bonus" because you get a bonus of 50 points added to your turn's score. "Scrabble Bingo of the Day" will focus on these high scoring plays, teaching you some interesting and possibly unusual seven-letter or longer words accepted in a game of Scrabble.

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