\ 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 One of her brothers’ friends lived in a neighboring shtetl, where the soldiers forced the Jews into a mass grave and shot them. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "For Holocaust survivors, Hanukkah marks time to celebrate outside the shadows," 23 Dec. 2019 Flash forward to 1906 when my own great grandfather escaped the deadly circumstances of life in a Ukraine shtetl to join his family and townspeople who had previously emigrated to the Promised Land. Steve West,, "Where are you from? | Opinion," 12 Dec. 2019 His world is the shtetl of the New York diamond district. Jamie Lauren Keiles, New York Times, "Adam Sandler’s Everlasting Shtick," 27 Nov. 2019 Trybal is like a modern millennial shtetl, where gesundheits fly. Rachel Levin, New York Times, "Jewish Summer Camp With Campfires, Crafts and No Lights Out," 18 Sep. 2019 The 1964 Broadway hit, based on Sholem Aleichem’s Yiddish stories about Tevye the dairyman and set in a 1905 czarist Russia shtetl, not only mirrored the major issues of its era but has since grown even more timely. Peter Keough,, "In Focus: Why ‘Fiddler’ plays on — and deserves to," 21 Aug. 2019 My father lived in a type of shtetl in Bedford Stuyvesant, once a home for poor Jewish immigrants and others long before its recent hipster gentrification. Longreads, "An Ocean Away From the Sanctuary of Manhattan, Signs of Peaceful Coexistence," 29 July 2019 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

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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The first known use of shtetl was in 1949

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Last Updated

3 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shtetl.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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

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