questionswhat is the difference between a schlemiel and a…


Is there something I'm missing?


I've heard a schlemiel is a drunk and a schlimazel is a loser. Do they even have literal translations?

@falcondeal: Laverne and Shirley, 70s TV show. It's from the opening credits.


I've heard that in old vaudeville shows one was the comedian and one was the straight man. Similar to your initial description I guess.


Both of these words are taken from the Yiddish language. Both these words really mean very similar things.

Schlemazel is a loser. Someone with bad luck. Or in Yiddish, has no "mazel". ("schle"= no; "mazel"= luck) It is also used to refer to a clumsy person.

Schlemiel is not used as often anymore. It is very similar. It means an ineffectual person, inept person; a person who is easily victimized.

You can look it up at , a free online Yiddish dictionary.


You are missing a word.Shmegege (see Yiddish dictionary- a fool).

A shlemiel is a person who not meaning to, causes an accident.For example, a diner at a restaurant sticks his leg out in an aisle, and causes a waiter to trip over it.

The shlemazel is a waiter, carrying a bowl of soup, is the one who has the accident happen to him through no fault of his own. Accidents happen to shlemazels.

The shmegege is a diner at a nearby table, totally uninvolved in the accident or its cause, has the bowl of soup fall on his head.

I learned this from my mother about 70 years ago