\ 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 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 What if the Yiddish-speaking poets and songwriters had electric guitars and amps in the shtetl? Joe Baur,, "Yiddish psychedelic rock band Forshpil brings electric guitar to the shtetl," 1 Sep. 2020 The film has a strong opening in the sepia-toned past in the fictional shtetl of Schlupsk where Herschel is a very unsuccessful ditch digger whose shovels keep breaking underneath him. Lindsey Bahr, Star Tribune, "Review: A sweet fable in Seth Rogen's 'An American Pickle'," 4 Aug. 2020 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

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

26 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shtetl.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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