ˈshte-tᵊl How to pronounce shtetl (audio)
variants or less commonly shtetel
plural shtetlach ˈshtet-ˌläḵ How to pronounce shtetl (audio)
also shtetels
: a small Jewish town or village formerly found in Eastern Europe

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The truth is that this musical is a piece of American culture, not of shtetl culture; any appropriation was in the making of it in the first place. Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York Times, 17 May 2023 But Boston is not a shtetl, and the gentile world loomed large: Edelman provides an uproarious account of a holiday season when his mother, seeking to console a Christian friend who had lost several family members, staged a traditional Christmas dinner for her — to Edelman’s father’s utter outrage. Washington Post, 7 Apr. 2022 In creating menus that combine Polish shtetl staples with Middle Eastern spices and popular American ingredients, chefs are asking the same about Jewish food. Jenny Comita Mari Maeda And Yuji Oboshi, New York Times, 14 Mar. 2023 Stolzenberg and Myers point out that Satu Mare bore little resemblance to the shtetl of myth; Jews made up only about a quarter of the city’s population of some fifty thousand people, and the Jews themselves were hardly an integrated bloc. Gideon Lewis-kraus, The New Yorker, 23 Feb. 2022 Its early donors might have been very rich, but the money was mostly new, and the donors themselves were likely themselves not far removed from the farm, the tenement, or, in the case of the many Jews supporting the Met, the shtetl. Brian T. Allen, National Review, 3 Oct. 2020 By 1941, Mikhailov’s father (who was from the Donbas) had enlisted as a Red Army officer, while his mother (born in a shtetl near Kyiv) escaped west with young Boris just before the Nazis entered Kharkiv and slaughtered the city’s Jews. Jason Farago, New York Times, 28 Oct. 2022 The shtetl is renamed Gedenkrovka in the novel (in what is now Ukraine), but the horrific events that devastate the Jewish village are largely the same. Rachel Raczka,, 17 Nov. 2022 When Roth was born in 1894, the shtetl of Brody was part of Galicia, on the eastern edges of the dual monarchy’s territory, up against the Russian border, ruled from afar by the ancient Habsburg emperor Franz Joseph. Hermione Lee, The New York Review of Books, 21 Sep. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shtetl.' 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 shtetl, from Middle High German stetel, diminutive of stat place, town, city, from Old High German, place — more at stead entry 1

First Known Use

1949, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of shtetl was in 1949

Dictionary Entries Near shtetl

Cite this Entry

“Shtetl.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jun. 2023.

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