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!

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


First Known Use: 1907


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up nebbish? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

capable of being altered or controlled

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!