Posted by TheFallen on September 25, 2003
In Reply to: Schmuck (or shmuck) posted by Bob on September 25, 2003
: : : I am currently watching a movie named "The Life of David Gale" in which Kevin Spacey's character states, roughly, that the word "schmuck" is a jewish word in reference to the part of the male penis discarded during circumcision. I checked archives and found no such reference. Any truth to such claim?
: : "Shmuck" is a Yiddish word meaning the whole penis.
: There's a little embedded Yiddish humor in the word, as it is derived from the German word for jewelry, or decoration. A decorative pendant ....
Schmuck and its contracted form schmo (to give them both the spellings I prefer) are by now in general English usage, and are correctly widely understood to mean someone who's a little stupid or a bit of an unwitting clown - I even noticed when I was in the US that some new reality TV show entitled Joe Schmoe was being advertised.
So, schmuck is a pretty mild insult. Its direct derivation is indeed from the Yiddish, but the Yiddish word is "schmock", being both a vulgar word for the whole penis as has been said, and also a strongly offensive insult - similar in tone to calling someone a "pr*ck" in English.