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

Examples of shtetl in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Its center was not the nostalgia of the shtetl but the mysterious resonance of a more ancient landscape. Gideon Lewis-Kraus, The New Yorker, 15 Feb. 2024 Like many Jewish playwrights of the period, Miller, barely a generation away from a Polish shtetl himself, erased the Jews if not the Jewishness from almost all his reputational works. Jesse Green, New York Times, 28 Nov. 2023 Although my mother was born in a tiny shtetl on the outskirts of Kyiv, this was my first visit there. Byjeffrey Sonnenfeld, Fortune, 27 Sep. 2023 Their mother remained in the shtetl, and Mr. Jaffee never saw her again. Ali Bahrampour, Washington Post, 10 Apr. 2023 Others criticized the show for transforming the misfortunes of shtetl life into the language of song and dance. Nelson Pressley, Washington Post, 23 June 2023 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

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 24 May. 2024.

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