YIDDISHISM. An expression or construction typical of the YIDDISH language, especially when found in another language. Yiddishisms occur in such languages as Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, and Spanish. The earliest recorded Yiddishisms in English either refer to items of the Jewish religion (such as kosher ritually fit, and its antonym treyf, both first recorded in 1851) or were part of the argot of criminals (such as ganef a thief, goy a non-Jew, both first recorded in the 1830s). With the immigration of Eastern European Jews into the UK and US during the 1880s Yiddishisms began entering English in great numbers. The centrality of LONDON and NEW YORK City, where most of the immigrants settled, played a major role in disseminating such usages as Yid, Yiddish, shnorrer, shlemiel, gefilte fish, shul, bar mitzva. Throughout the 20c, Yiddishisms have continued to make their way into English, increasingly as slang. The chief medium of transfer remains the Yiddish-influenced variety of English used by Jews of Eastern European origin or descent. See JEWISH ENGLISH.
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