\ ˈshte-tᵊl How to pronounce shtetl (audio) , ˈshtā- \
variants: or less commonly shtetel
plural shtetlach\ ˈshtet-​ˌläḵ How to pronounce shtetl (audio) , ˈshtāt-​ \ also shtetels

Definition of shtetl

: a small Jewish town or village formerly found in Eastern Europe

Examples of shtetl in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Faigel Lazebnik was born on Nov. 28, 1919, to an Orthodox Jewish family in Lenin, a shtetl on what was then the Polish border with the Soviet Union. Emily Langer, Washington Post, "Faye Schulman, partisan photographer who captured Jewish resistance during the Holocaust, dies at 101," 8 May 2021 Over time, gefilte fish became synonymous with the shtetl and with Sabbath and holiday meals. Rachel Ringler,, "The secret not-so-Jewish history of gefilte fish," 7 Apr. 2021 As many of us have begun to look back on our roots, the food of the shtetl has made a comeback in recent years. Rachel Ringler,, "The secret not-so-Jewish history of gefilte fish," 7 Apr. 2021 Those of us who take an interest in changes in contemporary language are in a condition not unlike that of the village idiot of Frampol, a shtetl in Poland. Joseph Epstein, WSJ, "50-Cent Words Are No Bargain," 24 Mar. 2021 In this masterful retelling of Peretz’s Yiddish tale, Goldin takes readers back to an old world shtetl. Penny Schwartz,, "Passover children’s books: Bespectacled lion reads the Haggadah and a Depression-era mitzvah," 10 Mar. 2021 Apart is about a shtetl—a village of Jews—in 19th century Europe. Eli Reiter, Wired, "How One Rabbi Uses Roleplaying Games to Build Community," 21 Jan. 2021 My grandfather delivered bread by horse and wagon to the working-class Jewish community on the Westside, then Savannah’s shtetl of striving Eastern European immigrants. New York Times, "My Search for Lost Time in a Slice of Jewish Rye," 19 Jan. 2021 Jewish folklore infuses The Way Back, in which two young people travel into a world of spirits and demons and must find their way home to their nineteenth-century shtetl Tupik in Eastern Europe. Sydney Williams, NBC News, "2020 National Book Awards finalists mark multiple firsts," 30 Oct. 2020

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

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First Known Use of shtetl

1949, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for shtetl

Yiddish shtetl, from Middle High German stetel, diminutive of stat place, town, city, from Old High German, place — more at stead entry 1

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Last Updated

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shtetl.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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