Learner’s definition of SCHMUCK
[count] US slang
: a stupid or foolish person : jerk
I can’t believe what a schmuck that guy is.
I still find it hard to realize that growing up in the sixties was half a century ago.
I grew up in Brooklyn and there was not a day that did not include grabbing a basketball and heading to the schoolyard or field to try to get into a game. I admit that I was never really any good at basketball – I could not dribble very well, and barely only with my right hand; I could only drive to my right; when I jumped, my feet barely left the ground; when I took a shot, I had no idea where the ball would be going; my coordination was – to be kind to myself, a bit lacking; but I so wanted to play. I am pretty sure it was one of my first obsessions. (not counting the whole gender thing….)
But I did have a basketball! This did provide a small sense of “power.” It usually meant that if there was a basket not being used somewhere I could head over there, and start shooting around, and then others would come by. It did not take long to have a 3 on 3 game begin, and I was in it. I did not have to wait to be chosen by someone, which sadly was unlikely to occur.
Sometimes, others would wait to play the winners, and even though it was my ball being used, I would find myself on the sideline, watching and not playing.
These early teen years were where I first learned the term, “The Block Schmuck.” It was the kid who had the ball that if he wasn’t chosen to play would take the ball, and then go home, so no one could play. It was not considered a nice word – I knew it was in the dirty word dictionary, nor was it a good thing to be known as one of those kids. If you were, ball or not, you might never get to play with anyone. Sometimes I watched the games for a long time, before I said I had to leave.
I did not really know what the word meant until one day, when I was really mad at my dad and I blurted out that he was a schmuck. No, this did not end well for me, but I did get a short Yiddish lesson that I just literally called my father a penis. No, this did not go well for me at all.
Origin and Etymology of schmuck
Yiddish shmok, literally, penis
First Known Use: 1892
Since then I have had an aversion to the word. When I hear it, let alone use it, I generally flash back to that time I used it in the wrong circumstance. Did I mention, that did not work out well for me?
Yet, time often changes how words are used and accepted in the general population. A few months ago I wrote about how the meaning of the word Queer has changed over the decades, and how I have come to be more accepting of the newer usage. Perhaps I am getting there with the word schmuck also.
I still think it is not a nice thing to say to or about someone but I checked good old Merriam-Webster to see what they think.
bastard, beast, bleeder [British], blighter [chiefly British], boor, bounder, bugger, buzzard, cad, chuff, churl, clown, creep, cretin, crud [slang], crumb [slang], cur, dirtbag [slang], dog, fink, heel, hound, joker, louse, lout, pill, rat, rat fink, reptile, rotter, jerk [slang], scum, scumbag [slang], scuzzball [slang], skunk, sleaze, sleazebag [slang], sleazeball [slang], slime, slimeball [slang], slob, snake, so-and-so, sod [chiefly British], stinkard, stinker, swine, toad, varmint, vermin
barbarian, brute, caveman, Neanderthal, savage; loudmouth, vulgarian; lowlife, miscreant, rascal, rogue, roughneck, scab, scamp, scoundrel, villain, wretch; booby, doofus [slang], fool, jackass, nincompoop, ninny, nit [chiefly British], nitwit, nut, schmo (or schmoe) [slang]; airhead, birdbrain, blockhead, dink [slang], dolt, dope, dork [slang], goon, half-wit, idiot, imbecile, moron, turkey; brat, insolent, nuisance, pest, snip; snob, snoot, snot; dweeb [slang], nerd
hero, heroine, idol, role model; gentleman, lady; angel, saint
There are a few big blocks in our nation’s capital. I suspect you may know them. It seems to me that there are a large number of people there who have their own balls, but really are not very good at the games they are playing, and make it difficult for me and perhaps others to keep watching them. I am thinking that many of them are today’s version of the old block schmuck; the kids who wanted it their way, and always received a ”needs improvement” on their report cards under the section called “Works and plays well with others.”
I think we need some new balls (and you may take that any way you choose) and get a new game going down there.
The other old adage that I learned is …..
Ball Don’t Lie. (even if some of the block schmucks do!)
Grace Anne Stevens inspires people to find their truth and live their authentic life!
She is the author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, and Musings on Living Authentically. Grace is available for speaking to all groups who would like to learn the values of, and how to live authentically. Workshop descriptions can be found at her website.
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