The Yiddish word of 2020

The Yiddish word of 2020

l Last year, the American Dialect Society met in New Orleans and voted the singular “they” as its word of the decade. This year, the society moved its words of the year voting online and reported the results as they came in via Twitter. Word of the year was, perhaps unsurprisingly, “Covid,” but several other categories proved more interesting. “Doomscrolling” was named digital word of the year, and “Before Times” most useful.

But it was the special 2020 category of “Zoom-Related Word of the Year” that caught our attention. The winner was “You’re muted,” but there, in third place, with a respectable 9 percent of the vote, was “Oysgezoomt,” the freshly coined Yiddish word meaning “fatigued or bored by Zoom.”

Oysgezoomt derives from “Oysgemutshet,” meaning completely exhausted. Oysgemutshet has roots in the Germanic expression “oys,” meaning “completely,” and the Slavic “mutshet,” which is related to the Russian word for martyr.

The earliest sighting of “oysgezoomt” seems to be a May 1 Twitter post by Bay Area brand-consultant Nancy Friedman, who credited the coinage to her cousin.

So: A hearty yasher koach to Nancy’s cousin, for reminding us all that when the times get tough, Yiddish neologisms can play in the big leagues.

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