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Posted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:08 pm
by Archived Topic
Came across this word today, apparently adopted into American English. It is Yiddish for knickknacks, assorted bits of junk.
Notice the two Tch in the first and four kays in the second.
Any clues as to etymology of both?
Submitted by Melvyn Goodman (London - England)


Posted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:22 pm
by Archived Reply
Sorry that should be TCHOTCHKES.
Reply from Melvyn Goodman (London - England)


Posted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:37 pm
by Archived Reply
Sure, Melvyn. Here's the etymology of "both":

Middle English "bothe," from Old Norse "bAthir"; akin to Old High German "beide" both.

Sorry, I couldn't resist!

Reply from K Allen Griffy (Springfield, IL - U.S.A.)


Posted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:51 pm
by Archived Reply
Leo Rosten, in "The Joys of Yiddish," says it is from the Slavic "shalet," to play pranks. He gives four alternate spellings and pronunciations and nine definitions: a toy; a trinket; a bruise or contusion; a nobody; a misfit; a kept woman; an ineffectual person; a cute female; a sexy but brainless broad. His spellings: tsatske, tchotchke, and the diminutive forms tsatskeleh and tchotchkeleh.

Linda, San Diego, CA
Oct. 4
Reply from ( - )


Posted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 10:05 pm
by Archived Reply
From Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day (Oct 1, 2001):
tchotchke /CHAHCH-kuh/ (noun): knickknack, trinket
Example sentence: Upon returning home from his trip to Maine, Jerry ceremoniously placed his new ceramic lobster next to the other tchotchkes on his mantelpiece.
Did you know? Just as trinkets can dress up your shelves or coffee table, many words for "miscellaneous objects" or "nondescript junk" decorate our language. "Knickknack," "doodad," "gewgaw," and "whatnot" are some of the more common ones. While many such words are of unknown origin, we know that "tchotchke" comes from the Yiddish "tshatshke" of the same meaning, and ultimately from a now-obsolete Polish word, "czaczko." "Tchotchke" is a pretty popular word these days, but it wasn't commonly used in English until the 1970s.
At the other end of the spectrum were the "Ozzies" for whom true fandom means collecting tchotchkes and gewgaws and kitsch (oh my!). In fact, it was hard to turn around without running into Oz memorabilia or people scrambling to find more of it -- everything from "If I Only Had a Brain" T-shirts to 1940s Oz-themed peanut butter cans to a newly authorized pillbox featuring Dorothy and Toto. (A Judy Garland pillbox? Hello?) --Salon magazine, July 27, 2000
Oct 5, 2001

Reply from Susumu Enomoto (Shiraokamachi - Japan)

Re: Tchotckes

Posted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:14 am
by Ken Greenwald
Tchotches lives! But no one ever claimed it died. I love this word and couldn't pass up posting the quote I found it in plus a few others for good measure. Susumu Enomoto, a prized Wordwizard from yesteryear, and others did an excellent job of definition and etymology so I won't delve into those.
<2017 "Dad's [[dad died]] tchotches are a bigger challenge to give away. He has awful taste in souvenirs. There's an oversize green wine glass that says 'Sexy Bitch.' I once asked why he had it in his room. 'Because I couldn't think of anyone to give it to.'"—The Week, 15 December [Excerpted from an essay that was originally published in]
The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:
<1977 "A . . . boutique, to the left of the entrance, stocked with a careful selection of New York's best tchotchkes. These include thirteen-inch-long matchbooks."—New Yorker (New York City, New York), 1 August, page 14/1>

<1987 "A bemused Ellen Barkin contemplates the 200-pound marlin on her wall, one of a school of aquatic tchotchkes that leap and creep about the actress' Greenwich Village loft."—The Washington Post (D.C.), 28 August>

<1997 "The tchotchkes are made from everyday objects like combs and forks, held together with plaster casts."—The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts), 18 November>

<2007 "Barely moved into her one room of artifacts, books and tchotchkes, already she needs a bigger place."—The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 19 February>

<2017 "I wandered over to the Jaffa Flea Market and tried my hand at bargaining for some tchotchkes to take home as souvenirs."—States News Service (Washington, D.C.), 7 November>

Ken Greenwald — December 19, 2017

Re: Tchotckes

Posted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 10:37 am
by tony h
"13 inch long matches" they were always on my great-uncle's Christmas list. They made lighting his coke fired stove much easier.