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

Examples of schlemiel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web He, the promising artist who died young, and I, the schlemiel who shovels out several hundred dollars a month to the storage company to house his artworks. Will Stephenson, Harper's Magazine, 16 Aug. 2023 Sanderson seems to me like an opportunist with an appetite for attention, or at the very least a schlemiel, possibly a little vain. Mireille Silcoff, New York Times, 2 May 2023 That poor schlemiel completely missed the point that Tim didn’t create the World Wide Web. Gil Press, Forbes, 26 Mar. 2023 On Instagram, Gellar posted a screencap of her titular Slayer meeting Pascal’s Eddie, a hapless schlemiel who — like Buffy herself — is having trouble adjusting to college life at UC Sunnydale. Vulture, 1 Mar. 2023 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 examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'schlemiel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 22 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


variants also shlemiel
: an unlucky and foolish person : chump

More from Merriam-Webster on schlemiel

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