schle·​miel shlə-ˈmēl How to pronounce schlemiel (audio)
variants or less commonly shlemiel
: an unlucky bungler : chump

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Superman was the ultimate hero, but Clark Kent was a schlemiel. David Mamet, National Review, 3 Mar. 2022 Like Woyzeck himself, Heather Chrisler's Helen hovers between antihero and schlemiel. Chicago Reader, 23 Aug. 2017

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

Word History


Yiddish shlemil

First Known Use

1868, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of schlemiel was in 1868

Dictionary Entries Near schlemiel

Cite this Entry

“Schlemiel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


variants also shlemiel
: an unlucky clumsy person : chump

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