nebbish

play
noun neb·bish \ˈne-bish\

Definition of nebbish

  1. :  a timid, meek, or ineffectual person

nebbishy

play \ˈne-bi-shē\ adjective

nebbish was our Word of the Day on 04/17/2012. Hear the podcast!

Recent Examples of nebbish from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nebbish'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

From what I read …. it looks like Pa isn't anything like the nebbish Ma is always making him out to be…. Sounds like poor Pa got a bum rap, at least according to a 1951 book review that appeared in The New York Times. The unfortunate Pa unwittingly demonstrates much about the etymology of nebbish, which derives from the Yiddish nebekh, meaning "poor" or "unfortunate." As you might expect for a timid word like nebbish, the journey from Yiddish to English wasn't accomplished in a single bold leap of spelling and meaning. In its earliest English uses in the 1840s, it was spelled nebbich and used interjectionally as an expression of dismay.

Origin and Etymology of nebbish

Yiddish nebekh poor, unfortunate, from Czech nebohý


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lacking social experience or grace

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