(Note: This article was originally posted on Wikipedia, but was deleted because it violated their criteria for posting, ie it was a list of definitions, not a true article. However, several bloggers linked to it as is still fairly useful, so I'm putting it up on my own blog. Ignore the Wikipedia references. Contact me if you wish to add any definitions).
J-Blogosphere is the name the Jewish blogging community uses to refer to itself. Blogs with a Jewish focus are called J-Blogs.
Often these blogs are written in English, but include a mix of Hebrew/Aramaic/Yiddish terms which may be disorienting to non-Orthodox or non-Jewish readers. Bloggers will frequently include explanations of these terms in the text of the individual posts, but this can become clunky and break up the flow of the article. Another way to deal with this is to include a separate post or web page that lists all the jargon which is commonly used in alphabetical order, so that unfamiliar readers can use this as a reference. While this is convenient for the Blog owner, it requires constant updating and many times these lists are incomplete.
The purpose of this article is to make a comprehensive list of the jargon, often referred to as Yeshivish or Yinglish, that is commonly used in the J-Blogosphere.
It is hoped that bloggers will update this page often to make it as complete as possible.
A word about spelling and pronunciation: Many of the terms listed below are transliterated from the original Hebrew (or Yiddish) and so spelling is approximate. In addition, pronunciation of Hebrew terms varies according to the Ashkenazit or Sefaradit traditions. In all cases, the preference used is that of the blogger who submitted the term. If a word cannot be found by looking for the "s" transliteration, try searching for the "t" variant (e.g. Sukkos vs. Sukkot).
Abba- Aramaic for Father
Aderaba - Aramaic; on the contrary
Ad Mosai - Until when, this is an exclamation used generally when exasperated. Lubavitchers use this phrase when talking about Moshiach - Ad Mosai? How much longer do we have to wait for the coming of Moshiach?
Aidel – Yiddish, literally means refined
Aidel maidel – Yiddish, literally means refined girl
Aliyah – Literally means “to go up”. Used when referring to when someone emigrates to Israel, or when someone is called up to read or say a blessing on the torah. Also when someone passes away, we say their neshama/soul goes “up” to shamayim/gan eden/heaven.
Ani Maamin – Literally means “I believe.” A shortened version of “Ani Maamin, be’emunah shalaima”
Ashkenaz- referring to Jews from northern Europe
Aveilus – the time period of mourning in which a mourner has obligations and restrictions on what they are permitted to do. The mourning period for someone who has lost a parent is one year. Restrictions include no listening to music, attending weddings or other happy occasions, and no new clothes.
Avoda – literally means “work” but it often means spiritual work, or what G-d wants us to accomplish down here.
Babka – An eastern European yeast cake, can come in any number of flavors including chocolate and cinnamon.
Bais Hamikdosh- The Holy Temple
Bais Medresh- House of Learning. Study Hall.
Bar Mitzvah- a boy of age 13, responsible to do Mitzvot.
Baruch Dayan Emes – literally means “Blessed is the True Judge”. This is the phrase recited upon hearing of someone’s death. It is both a phrase used to comfort the mourner and an acknowledgement that G-d runs the world
Bashert – that it was meant to be from time immemorial. Also used to talk about our life partner - predetermined from the beginning of time.
Bentch- Yiddish, literally means “to bless”, can be used a variety of ways – most commonly to denote the long blessings to be recited after eating bread. Can also refer to what G-d decides to bless us with, or how some Jews traditionally bless their children every Friday night. Also one person can always bentch another.
Bimah- the stage where the Torah is read
Bli neder – Without a vow.
Bochur, bochurim – literally means “boy” or “son” often refers to single men of high school, college, and marriageable age.
Bracha- blessing; pl. brachot
Broiges- a long-running grudge, something less than a feud but more than a dispute
BT – Baal Teshuva – literally means Master of Return, generally means people who did not grow up orthodox and became frum later in life, or can mean someone FFB who stopped being orthodox and then started again.
CHABAD- A center for Lubavitch Jews
Challah - The braided bread traditionally eaten on Shabbos/Sabbath.
Chanukah – The Jewish festival of lights.
Charedim- Orthodox Jews on the far right of the spectrum- tend to reject secular pursuits
Chas v'shalom – G-d Forbid
Chassidim- a sect of Jews, who follow the teachings of 18th century Rabbi, the Baal Shem Tov
Chassidishe – literally means pious, this is an adjective to describe one stream of orthodoxy
Chazal – A general term to mean "our sages". When used, it generally means, that somewhere in the huge cannon of rabbinic writings, it refers to this matter.
Chazzan- the cantor
Cheshbon Hanefesh- a spiritual accounting of the soul
Chevrusah- a partner in learning Torah; refers also to both partners
Chillul Hashem- Desecration of the Name of G-d
Chizzuk – something which strengthens someone
Cholov Yisroel- Milk produced at a farm in part owned by Jews
Chumash- The Pentateuch, or, the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
Chupa- the canopy over the marriage ceremony, also refers to the ceremony itself
Chutzpah, Chutzpahdik- disrespect, gall, overly confident.
Daf Yomi- learning a page of the Talmud every day
Dan L'Chaf Zechus- Hebrew, to Judge on the side of merit, to judge every person favorably until you know all the details
Daven- to pray
Davening- either the act of praying, or the prayer service
Derech – literally means “the way”, can also refer to the stream of orthodoxy one follows
Eema - also Ima - Aramaic for Mother
Emunah peshuta – simple or blind faith
Eretz HaKodesh – Literally, “the holy land”, refers to Israel, preferably in it’s biblical boundaries
Eretz Yisroel – literally, “the land of Israel”, refers to Israel
Erev Shabbos – The time before shabbos/Sabbath, pre-sabbath preparation time
FFB – Frum(orthodox) from birth
Frum - Orthodox
Frummies- somewhat derogatory term for very religious Jews; also those who like to act religious
G-d – When the name of God is written in Hebrew, it can never be destroyed – and there are several names for Him in Hebrew. As a way around this, we often will write the name with alternate letters in Hebrew so as to not create a problem. Similarly, most orthodox jews will write G-d in English with the hyphen.
Gabbai- the guy in the shul responsible for arranging who leads the prayers and gets called up to the Torah, etc.
Galus- exile, diaspora
Gam Tzu La Tova- "This also is for the good." A classic phrase used to show faith that everything that happens is from G-d and therefore inherently Good.
Gan Eden – Literally the Garden of Eden, this can refer to the “heaven”/afterlife
Gehinnom – PUrgatory or Hell depending on who you ask
Ger – a convert
Godol HaDor, Nosi HaDor – the leader of the generation
Grusha - Hebrew, means divorcee
Gutte gebentched yohr – Yiddish, means a Good, Blessed Year – this is a new year’s greeting
Gutte voche – Yiddish, means a good week, something said after the shabbos/Sabbath ends
Hachlata – a resolution, usually made in regards to some form of observance
Haftorah - the Chanting of passages from the books of prophets, after the Shabbos Torah reading. (nothing to do with half a Torah)
Halacha- Jewish Law
Hashem – Literally means, “the Name”, an alternate name for G-d in Hebrew
Hashkofa – the stream of orthodoxy one follows, alt. philosophy
Heter - Allowance. EG a heter to use birth control pills granted by a rabbi
Hot Chanie- a young (mid 20s to early 30s) Orthodox Jewish woman who "skirts" the laws of tzniut (modesty) by wearing tight clothing that barely covers elbows, collarbones, and knees. Hot Chanies often will not be seen in public unless wearing full make-up; a long, sleek sheitel (wig); and high heels. Also considered "The Plastics" of the frum (Orthodox) world. (Origin)
IMYH - Im Yirtz Hashem – If G-d Wills It, aka G-d willing
Kabbalah- literally, "that which is passed down." Refers to the field of Jewish Mysticism. Also a really cool Jewish Rock Band.
Kaddish- special prayer, often said by those in mourning. Requires a quorum (minyan) of 10 men to recite.
Kashrut- the concept that food must be kosher (ok for Jews to eat)
Kedusha- the holiest part of the prayer service, where everyone must be silent and not move. Also means holiness
Kiddush- sanctification of the meal over wine. Also refers to a nice spread after shul is over.
Kiddush Hashem- sanctification of the name of G-d. Opposite of chillul Hashem. Something that brings honor to the Jewish People.
Kinneret – the body of water in Israel
Kippah Sruga- crocheted skullcap
Kol Isha- the voice of a woman (usually singing)
Kollel- place where married men sit and learn Torah all day
K'tiva v'katima tova – You should be written and inscribed for good, a new year’s greeting
Kumzitz- singalong with story telling
Layn- read the Torah (in front of everyone)
L'Chaim- "To Life" a traditional toast, also an engagement party (see vort)
L'illui Nishmas – It should be "a light" for the soul, this is a phrase meaning that when something is done in the merit of a deceased person's memory, their soul lights up or attains extra merit in shamayim.
Litvish – A stream of orthodoxy, originating in Lithuanian, frequently followers of the Vilna Goan, aka the GRA
Loshon Hora- badmouthing; gossip. No dancing involved
Lulav- a palm branch, used in the service for Sukkos
Maariv – the evening prayer service
Machmir – strict or stringent
Maikel – lax or permissive
Makpid – exacting when it comes to details, rules, regulations
Mamash – Yeshivish, means “REALLY” i.e. I mamash liked him
Mashpiim – a Mentor, or Rabbi, or someone to turn to for advice
Masmid – someone who learns full time
Mazel Tov- literally "good luck", or congratulations
Mekabel – literally means to receive, but means also to accept something as fact
Mentch- a Man. Someone to be proud of.
Meshulach- an emissary, one sent to collect funds
Mevatel – self-nullification, lit. "wasting"
Mezuman- the 3 people needed to say a special blessing before saying grace after meals
Middos – personality traits
Mikvah- ritual bath
Mincha- afternoon prayer service
Minhag- custom, pl. minhagim
Minyan- literally, a quorum. The number of men (10) required for a formal prayer group. Also the name of the group itself.
Mir – a famous litvish yeshiva, now based in Israel
Mitzvah- Commandment (from G-d). pl. Mitzvot, Mitzvos
Mizbayach – the table in the holy ark in the temple
MO – Modern Orthodox, a stream of orthodoxy in which followers are equally involved in the secular and religious worlds
Morah - teacher
Moshiach Tzidkenu – The righteous messiah
Motsi Shabbos/Shabbat – Literally means "After Sabbath", refers to Saturday night after the Sabbath ends.
Mussaf- the extra prayer service after Shacharis, on Sabbath and Festivals
Naches- Naches. Also pride.
Nebuchs – losers, pity cases
Neshama - soul
Nefesh, Nefesh Elokis, Nefesh HaBahamis - soul, and the parts of the soul.
Nefesh elokis is the G-dly part of the soul, nefesh HaBahamis is the "animal" part of the soul. See Kabbalah or chassidus for more information.
Niggun – A wordless Chassidic song
Nusach Sfard- the liturgy chosen by the Chassidim, in opposition to the traditional liturgy usually used by European Jews, Nusach Ashkenaz
Parnossa- livelihood, the ability to earn a living, decent wage
Parsha - Portion of the Torah reading
Peyes- curly side burns (it is the chassidic custom never to cut them)
Putz – not a polite word. Literally is the Yiddish word for a part of the male anatomy. Generally refers to a not nice person, a jerk, or as the word says in English, a d-ck
Rabbi- one who is ordained to teach or lead Jews
Rashi- Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, one of the greatest commentators on the Torah and Talmud. His commentary is included almost every chumash and talmud bavli printed today.
Reb Shlomo- Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
Rebbe- A chassidic Rabbi, who is the leader of his community; or a personal Rabbi or teacher
Rebbetzin – the wife of a rabbi
Ribono Shel Olam - Master of the Universe.
Schnorer- a beggar; a moocher; derogatory term for Meshulach
Segulah - Can have various meanings depending on context. Can mean, sign, symbol, treasure, portent. Can lead to something which is desired, e.g. drinking "segulah wine" can lead to becoming married.
Sfard- referring to Jews of Spain and Northern Africa, also from Arab countries
Shabbos, Shabbat- the Jewish Sabbath, Saturday
Shacharis- the morning prayer service
Shadchan – matchmaker, in modern Hebrew it means “stapler”
Shlaimus – whole, complete
Shamayim – heavens, literally and figuratively
Shayach - appropriate
Sheitel – wig, as worn by orthodox women
Shema – One of the fundamental prayers of Judaism, recited at least twice a day, and is contained inside a mezuzah.
Shemonah Esrei – One of the fundamental prayers of Judaism, recited once at each of the three daily prayer times, this is the silent devotion prayer.
Sheva Brochas – The special seven blessings recited in the first week of a new marriage. Also the seven days of festive meals prepared in honor of bride and groom.
Shidduch, shidduchim – blind, pre-arranged dates for the orthodox world
Shlep- v. to drag. n. someone who looks like he was dragged
Shliach, Shlichus – a messenger, generally used as a chabad term for lubavitchers doing outreach
Shliach Tzibur- one who leads the prayer service
Shlump- messy, sloppy, a slob
Shmoneh Esrei- part of the Jewish Prayer Service; the "18" blessings
Shmooze, Shmoozing- talk, chat casually
Shpritz - spray
Shvits- sweat, steambath
Shteeble- an informal prayer group in someone's house, may become more formal
Shtreimel- A big, round, furry hat, favored by Chassidim
Shtyging – learning full time
Siddur - prayer book
Siman - sign
Sukka- a temporary shack, with branches or bamboo roof, used on Sukkos
Sukkos- The holiday of Tabernacles
Talmid Chochom - literally a wise student, generally refers to a man who is very learned in Torah and Jewish studies, this is a compliment
Talmud Bavli-The Babylonian Talmud. This is a synopsis of more than 300 years of analysis in the Mishnah in the Babylonian Academies. Generally regarded to have been completed by 700 CE.
Talmud Yerushalmi- The Jerusalem or Palestinian Talmud. A synopsis of almost 200 years of analysis in the Mishnah in the Academies of Israel (mainly Tiberius and Caeseria) and completed about 350 CE. Due to the locations of the Israeli Academies, they demonstrate a greater focus on agricultural law. To most Orthodox Jews, in disputes between the Talmuds, the Babylonian one is considered supreme.
Takanah - a proclamation. Literally a "fix" of an existing Jewish law to address a new circumstance or correct a problem.
Tanach or Tanakh- The Jewish Bible, the Old Testament
Tatty - Father
Tfila, Tefillos - Hebrew; prayer
Tfila Betzibur - Public prayer; Prayer with the congregation
Tfilin, Tefillin- phylacteries. Small black boxes with hebrew text inside, to be worn during prayers.
Torah- The 5 books of Moses; the Jewish Bible; the big scroll where it is written
Tracht Gut V’Tzein Gut- Yiddish phrase, means "Think Good and it Will Be Good"
Trop - symbols used as musical notes for the cantillation of the Torah
Tsuris – woe, problems, worries
Tuchas- bum, rear-end. Also tush
Tzedaka – Charity
Tzion – Zion, aka Israel
Tzitzis – the four cornered fringed garment worn by orthodox males
Tznius – modesty, in dress, speech, and action
Underheisen - underwear in Yiddish
Yartzheit- anniversary of someone's death. There are a number of Jewish customs regarding the obligations of descendants on the yartzheit.
Yeshiva- A Jewish School. Also refers to a Jewish place of higher learning
Yetzer Harah - Evil inclination
Yetzer Hatov - Good inclination
Yinglish- A mix of English, Hebrew and Aramaic; often spoken by children who return from Yeshiva, to the horror of the parents
Yontif- actually Yom Tov, good day, or holiday