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

In her shtetl, only young boys were indulged in their maniacal pursuit of mastery that led them to spend every waking moment poring over the Talmud. WSJ, "Give No Triple Points for ‘Gender Differences’," 22 Nov. 2018 Born in a Polish shtetl, Bieber hustled tickets on Broadway, owned a bar called The Paddock in Times Square, kept a stable of racehorses, was quick to anger and gambled like no one has ever seen. Max Watman, WSJ, "Running With Runyon," 25 May 2018 Soutine, born in a shtetl in the Lithuanian part of Russia (now Belarus) in 1893, the tenth of eleven children in a family of menders (a caste below tailors), was an outlier all his life. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The Vulnerable Ferocity of Chaim Soutine," 7 May 2018 Out of the shtetl and into the mainstream of European life the new citizen-Jew duly emerged. Roger Cohen, New York Times, "Millenniums of Tribulation," 18 Dec. 2017 Aleichem both celebrates human comedy and chronicles inhuman tragedy, while spinning colorful webs of language that bring alive the teeming world of the Eastern European shtetl. Jean Zimmerman, New York Times, "The Story of Louisa Alcott’s Baby Sister, and Other Characters From Literature’s Sidelines," 29 Sep. 2017 Peres says his early idol was his grandfather Zvi, the rabbi of the Polish shtetl of Vishneva, who later perished in the Holocaust. Washington Post, "Posthumous book offers rare glimpse into Shimon Peres’ life," 12 Sep. 2017 After the convention, Bellsey became interested in researching the history of this Torah — and traced the scroll to Kutna Hora, a shtetl (town) in the former Czechoslovakia about an hour east of Prague. Randall P. Lieberman, Jewish Journal, "Temple ceremony recalls departed on Yom HaShoah," 1 May 2017 Mr. Obama tried to explain the unlikely friendship that developed between an African-American from Hawaii and a child of the shtetl who grew up to lead Israel. Peter Baker, New York Times, "World Leaders Gather to Mourn Shimon Peres, and Possibly His Dream," 30 Sep. 2016

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

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The first known use of shtetl was in 1949

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shtetl Encyclopedia article about shtetl

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