Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

We’ve Got your Idiom

Leah Mandel

It started as a half-baked idea; one that we weren’t sure would hold water. Why not research those ten-a-penny phrases we often use and determine if any have their roots in our history, or our Hebrew or Yiddish language? Idioms, expressions that color every language, are phrases that mean much more than the words themselves. Leaving no stone unturned, we went on a wild-goose chase to discover the Jewish source of the cream of the crop. The fruits of our labor are now in your hands.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

To “put the kibosh” on something generally means to stop it in its tracks. You’ll often hear these words when someone has reached the end of his rope and frustration is reigning. According to Albert Jack, author of Red Herrings and White Elephants, the word “kibosh” comes from the Hebrew lichbosh — to conquer, subdue, or to imprison. When no one was able to put the kibosh on this phrase, it became an oft-used idiom.


“Every Monday and Thursday,” a translation of the Yiddish yedn Montig un Donershtig, was occasionally heard in the latter part of the 20th century. The New York Times used the phrase to complain about the frequency of oil rates rising. This phrase means something that happens often — so, what happens regularly on Mondays and Thursdays? A portion of that week’s parshah is read during Shacharis and extra tefillos are recited.

In his book Yiddish and English: A Century of Yiddish in America, linguist Sol Steinmetz notes that the phrase “every Monday and Thursday” surfaced either due to those occurrences or to the custom some people have to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. Place of origin: northeasternUnited States, most likelyNew York, early 1900s.


To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Drink to Eternity
Rabbi Moshe Grylak Redemption doesn’t simply mean being let out of jail
Klal Yisrael Is Always Free
Yonoson Rosenblum "In that merit will Klal Yisrael continue to exist”
Home Free
Eytan Kobre My baseline for comparison is admittedly weak
Believe in Your Own Seder
Rabbi Judah Mischel Hashem is satisfied when we do our best
Picture Perfect
Yisroel Besser Take a picture — and this time, send it to yourself
Flying Solo
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman As Pesach loomed closer, his resentment was growing
Hanging on by a Hair
Jacob L. Freedman MD “Do you still think that I’m not completely crazy?”
A Song for Every Season
Riki Goldstein Influencers map out their personal musical soundtracks
Subliminal Speech
Faigy Peritzman The deeper the recognition, the deeper the effect
The Big Change
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Spelling things out clears clouds of resentment
The Count-Up
Mrs. Shani Mendlowitz Tap the middos of Sefirah to recreate yourself
The Baker: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP with Zivia Reischer "She can't get married if she can't build a relationship...
Know This: Infertility
As Told to Bracha Stein There was no place for me. I didn’t belong
Dear Shadchan
The Girl Here's the thing: I need time