Local Lingo Primer
One of the most distinctive elements of New York City-speak -- apart from the gruff, in-your-face style epitomized by Robert De Niro in the movie "Taxi Driver" ("You talkin' to me?") and the Long Island and Brooklyn cliché "fuggedabout it"" -- is the preponderance of Yiddish words dropped into conversation by Jews and non-Jews alike. Here's a quick glossary:
chutzpah: guts, daring, audacity
kvetch: complain, gripe
mazel tov: congratulations!
mensch: good person, stand-up guy
meshugeneh: crazy person
oy vey: exclamation of grief or horror
schlep: drag or haul; to make a tedious journey
schmear: spread (for instance, cream cheese on a bagel)
schmutz: grime, dirt, the stuff that gets in New York City windows
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