luft·​mensch | \ ˈlu̇ft-ˌmen(t)sh How to pronounce luftmensch (audio) \
plural luftmenschen\ ˈlu̇ft-​ˌmen(t)-​shən How to pronounce luftmenschen (audio) \

Definition of luftmensch

: an impractical contemplative person having no definite business or income

Did You Know?

Are you someone who always seems to have your head in the clouds? Do you have trouble getting down to the lowly business of earning a living? If so, you may deserve to be labeled a "luftmensch." That airy appellation is an adaptation of the Yiddish "luftmentsh," which breaks down into "luft" (a Germanic root meaning "air" that is also related to the English words "loft" and "lofty") plus mentsh, meaning "human being." "Luftmensch" was first introduced to English prose in 1907, when Israel Zangwill wrote, "The word 'Luftmensch' flew into Barstein's mind. Nehemiah was not an earth-man. . .. He was an air-man, floating on facile wings."

First Known Use of luftmensch

1907, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for luftmensch

Yiddish luftmentsh, from luft air + mentsh human being

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The first known use of luftmensch was in 1907

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Cite this Entry

“Luftmensch.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 27 January 2020.

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one that suddenly gains wealth or power

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