selected Yiddish proverbs

A buzzing in one’s (mind) head.
A cutie-pie showing off her (new) dress.
A man should stay alive if only out of curiosity.
A piece of meat with two eyes (insult).
After the wedding it’s too late to have regrets.
All of life is a struggle.
All problems I have in my heart, should go to his head.
All spruced up (lit., like Chavele on her way to her divorce).
All the world is on the tip of the tongue.
An embittered heart talks a lot.
Animals have long tongues but can’t speak; men have short tongues and shouldn’t speak.
Black sorrow is all that his mother should see of him.
Borrowed brains have no value.
Break your own head!
Chopped liver is better than miserable troubles.
Do me a favor.
Don’t ask questions about fairy tales.
Don’t give me a canary.
Don’t hit me and don’t lick me
Every day brings forth its own sorrows.
Every man has a madness of his own.
For this I went to college?
Give a pig a chair, he’ll want to get on the table.
Go bang your head against the wall.
Go fight with God.
Go to the toilet.
Had they put your brain inside a bird, it would have started flying backwards!
He should be transformed into a chandelier, to hang by day and to burn by night.
He should grow a wooden tongue.           
He should grow like an onion with its head in the ground.
He should laugh with lizards.
It’s getting dark in my eyes.
I keep on dropping things.
If you don’t eat garlic, you won’t smell bad.
If you’re going to eat pork, get it all over your beard.
Ink dries quickly; tears don’t.
It’s as appropriate as a pig.
It’s better to be embarrassed than heartbroken.
It’s bitter like bile and without bile one cannot live.
 Life is like a child’s undershirt—short and soiled.
Lying in the ground, baking bagels.
Many songs, but few dumplings.
One even gets tired of eating only dumplings.
 Pimples should grow on your tongue!
So I made a mistake. So what?
The body is a sponge, the soul an abyss.
The masses are asses.
The truth has charm but it’s shy.
What’s the use of a beautiful dream, if the dawn is chilly?
You can’t pee on my back and make me think it’s rain!


4 thoughts on “selected Yiddish proverbs

  1. An old Bellow novel–Herzog, maybe–says there's a yiddish word for the witticisms you think of after the occasion has passed. I think it's trepverter. No equivalent in English, I'm sure.

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