Useful to know

Posted by Word Camel on February 01, 2002

In Reply to: Just out of curiosity... posted by The Fallen on February 01, 2002

: : : : : : : : I was wondering about this phrase as it used to describe male genitalia.

: : : : : : : : For years I've wondered specifically if this might relate to the German word "Schmuck" meaning ornament, decoration or jewels and the Yiddish word "Schmuck" meaning penis. I understand that the Yiddish word is related to the word for "snake" - which would make sense.

: : : : : : : : Anyone have any insights?

: : : : : : : : Thanks,

: : : : : : : : C

: : : : : : : JEWELS - "Many of the terms for the male genitals refer to the value of these organs - thought by some to be man's most precious possessions. These include 'family jewels,' 'jewelry,' 'trinkets,' and 'treasure' (also used for the female genitals). Even the Yiddish term 'schmuck' is a pejorative use of the low German term for 'jewels' and implications of value shape such other euphemisms for male genitals as 'private property,' 'ladies' treasure,' and 'ladies' delight." From the "Wordsworth Book of Euphemism" by Judith S. Neaman and Carole G. Silver (Wordsworth Editions, Hertfordshire, 1995)

: : : : : : : That reminds me of a scene from "My Favorite Year." Paraphrasing here. Alan Swann (Peter O'Toole) accidentally goes into the Ladies Room. Lil (Selma Diamond) tells him, "This is for ladies only." He answers, "And this, mum, is also for ladies only. But sometimes I have to run a little water through it."

: : : : : :
: : : : : : In the US, the family jewels refer to the testicles. I also understand, in the US, that "Scmuck" is a large penis, while "Putz" is a small one. This is not necessarily the proper use of the the terms. The term, I was told, is Schmuck = "You're a big "d*ck - "Putz = "You're a little d*ck". This is a derogatory term when referring to, not their genital size, but their attitude.

: : : : : These connotations aren't evident in Leo Rosten's discussions of the two words ("The Joys of Yiddish," McGraw-Hill, 1968):

: : : : : "Literally, 'putz' is vulgar slang for 'penis.' But the vulgarism is rarely used to designate the member; the word 'shmuck' does that. As used, 'putz' is a term of contempt for: 1. A fool, an ass, a jerk. 2. A simpleton or yokel; an easy mark."

: : : : : Rosten gives two meanings for "shmuck" (which he spells without the first "c"):
: : : : : "1. (Obscene) Penis. . . . 2. (Obscene) A dope, a jerk, a boob; a clumsy, bumbling fellow."

: : : : : I've never heard that the two words imply any difference in size, in the US or elsewhere.
: : : : :

: : : : I agree with R Berg. I've never heard these words used to imply size. Also, it's always been clear, to me at least, that the term "The Family Jewels" refers to the turkey AND all the trimmings - not simply to testicles.

: : : As an owner of his own personal set of family jewels, I'll stand up and be counted on the side of the idiom meaning just the testicles. As back-up from a source that could not be any more reputable, I'lll quote Anthony Michael Hall from that seminally (no pun intended... much) classic movie "Weird Science", where, when stoned out of his mind in the blues bar, he informs his fellow drinkers/tokers that he got kicked in "da fam'ly joolz".

: : Is it likely that one was kicked without the other? It's all pretty much of a muchness no?

: Geographically of course you're right, but the intention of the kicker is always to kick the kickee in the testicles. Anything else that happens to get struck along the way can just be considered as "collateral damage", to use a hideous yet topical phrase. Again, trying to retain some sense of decorum whilst lapsing into the surreal, I or any man would tell you that, if the areas of impact could be distinguished, where they'd far rather be hit. Don't get me wrong, though - I'd rather not suffer any impact at all :)

By the way, I realise I was lumping schlong and schmuck together. I should have bought that lexicon of smut instead of reading it behind the stacks.