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Yiddish for Radiologists

Article

A wise physician in the northeast quadrant of the country once commented that a doctor would do well to speak Spanish, act British, and think Yiddish. Whatever his rationale, you’ve almost certainly heard some folks uttering some Yiddish rather than merely thinking it. In case you’ve ever wondered what they were saying, or just want to increase your own repertoire, allow me to offer a sampling. Where possible, I’ve tried to spell phonetically, but some things just have to be heard for full effect. (The sound represented by “ch,” for instance.)

A wise physician in the northeast quadrant of the country once commented that a doctor would do well to speak Spanish, act British, and think Yiddish. Whatever his rationale, you’ve almost certainly heard some folks uttering some Yiddish rather than merely thinking it. In case you’ve ever wondered what they were saying, or just want to increase your own repertoire, allow me to offer a sampling. Where possible, I’ve tried to spell phonetically, but some things just have to be heard for full effect. (The sound represented by “ch,” for instance.)

 

Chazzer: A pig. This could be the guy who grabbed two donuts at the meeting, leaving you with none, or it could be the partner who tells you there’ll be no bonuses this year just before he flies his family off to Monaco, first-class, using nothing but miles accumulated on the practice’s American Express “Centurion” card.

 

Gonif: Thief, or at least someone very dishonest. Something you might call the chazzer while he’s gambling your bonus away in Monaco. (There are plenty of other colorful Yiddish words you might also use, but I’m keeping this clean.)

 

Klutz: A clumsy individual, lacking dexterity or agility. Not the guy you want doing your interventional procedures.

 

Nosh: A snack, or the act of snacking. You know someone was noshing at your workstation when you find crumbs of the nosh all over your keyboard, and something sticky (you really, really hope it was a spilled beverage) on the desktop.

 

Kvell: Express the utmost pride in someone. (“Nachas” refers to the pride itself.) The day you got into (or graduated from) med school, your family was kvelling.

 

Kvetch: Complain, or someone who complains a lot; implies excessive whining. If the ER is busy and you have a lot of work to do, you might kvetch about it (unless you get bonuses for volume).

 

Tsooris: Tears; something for which, unlike the kvetch, you’re entirely justified in being upset. One of my attendings, when reviewing horribly abnormal cases (rampant lymphoma, extreme trauma, etc.), would often pause to regard the resident for a moment, then say, “You think *you’ve* got tsooris.”

 

Maven: An expert, the authority on a subject. Your group’s chest-maven, for instance, might get rewarded for all of his curbside-consults by automatically receiving every single high-resolution CT of the thorax.

 

Mensch: Literally means “man,” but implies uncommon decency and goodness of character. The abovementioned chest-maven might be told he’s a “real mensch” when he’s receiving his tenth high-res chest in a row because nobody else feels comfortable reading it.

 

Noodnik: Someone annoying, especially if they’re persistent about it. The guy who always saunters by while you’re trying to get work done, and stands behind you offering commentary on each case you read.

 

Yenta: A gossiper. Might drop by as often as the noodnik, but at least this one has dirt to dish.

 

Shmootz: Dirt or other stuff that makes something unclean. On an imaging-study, can refer to just about any abnormality. “There’s a bunch of shmootz in the lungs and mesentery, but nothing specific.”

 

Bupkis: Nothing. When a case is completely devoid of shmootz, the patient’s got bupkis. Could also refer to what you got as a result of your annual renegotiation-meeting.

 

Shvitz: What you do when the AC is out and the reading-room is 90 degrees.

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