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Klutz

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Klutz

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:08 am

• klutz •


Pronunciation: klêts • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A dolt, a jerk, a schlemiel, a putz (in the civil sense), a blockhead, which is to say, a clumsy, awkward person who seldom gets anything right.

Notes: Klutziness is the abstract noun that pinpoints the klutz's problem. As you can see in the definition above, the concept is widespread enough that English has had to joined forces with Yiddish to create a plethora of words to express it. The noun allows the adjective klutzy (klutzier, klutziest). Don't forget to add E when you write the plural, klutzes.

In Play: The fun in this word is that it is almost onomatopoetic; it just sounds right for its meaning: "M. T. Head is such a klutz, he tied his shoes together and fell on the dog when he tried to stand up." That example gives you some idea of what defines a klutz. M. T.'s sister, Lucinda, is just as klutzy: "In the middle of summer that klutz, Lucinda Head, left a dozen chocolate bars on top of her dashboard; now it's chocolate coated."

Word History: This word is another gift from Yiddish, this time klots "block, log," borrowed from German Klotz with the same meaning. The semantic connection here parallels that of our own blockhead, which originally referred to a wooden block on which hats are shaped. The same root behind the German word turned up in English as both clot and clod. Also related is Old English clæg "clay", which became clay in Modern English. Another related word is Latin gluten "glue"—the glue that makes for a stick-to-your-ribs breakfast? Anyway, it is the source of English glue. This word is historically unrelated to the Klux in Ku Klux Klan, though it is understandable if you pronounce it Ku Klutz Klan. (Thanks to Katy Brezger and Jackie Strauss for yet another wonderful word that will probably go over the heads of klutzes.)
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Re: Klutz

Postby MTC » Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:36 am

For a fortnight I've had a sensation of formication watching that macrocephalic klutz Charlie Brown being fobbed with the same old rug trick by Lucy, but everything is hunky-dory now that brat Linus is back.
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Re: Klutz

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:10 pm

:lol:
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: Klutz

Postby vomero » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:47 am

It is my understanding that klutz essentially means a clumsy person. Schlemeil has strong connotations of dishonesty. Blockhead and dolt are fundamentally stupid people. Putz (I cringe to write the word), is not merely a profoundly vulgar term, but is to Yiddish attuned ears shockingly, stunningly so, not to be used in polite company at any time. These terms are not interchangeable in my view.
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Re: Klutz

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:03 pm

There are few absolute synonyms; I use words in my definitions that convey the general sense of words. Word meanings are very fuzzy, so I feel justified in this.

Having said that, I don't feel schlemiel implies any criminality at all and putz, while I do understand what it means in Yiddish, remember, this is an English word of the day series. I have dozens of Jewish friends, in fact my closest friends are Jewish and my wife and I are honorary members of Congregation Beth El we attend so many functions there. They use this word as a verb, to putz around, all the time. I don't think English speakers unfamiliar with Yiddish make the association you're making.

The same goes for schmuck, which means "jewelry" in German ("family jewels" in Yiddish). Since my wife and I have had Jewish friends since high school, we knew the Yiddish meaning of the word the first time we visited Germany. Every town we visited had a "Schmuck" store. Although I spoke German, we could not help shaking our heads and laughing every time we saw one.
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Re: Klutz

Postby Slava » Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:21 pm

I like how languages use words from other languages in various odd ways. Two come to mind:

They say the bread's name is pronounced "Beem-bo," but it's spelled "Bimbo."

And the "Mercury" fish store in Moscow.
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Re: Klutz

Postby MTC » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:43 pm

Welcome to the forum, vomero. I think you'll find this a congenial site to post.

About "putz around," McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs defines the expression:

Inf. to fiddle around; to mess around. Stop some time puzzling over her. While I was puzzling over putzing around and get to work. Those guys spend most why she had slapped me, she did it again, of their time just putzing around.

Pretty innocuous. On the other hand (or organ,) "putz" is in my experience a vulgar insult as you suggest. I wouldn't call anyone a "putz" without having one foot in the stirrup.

Interesting, isn't it, that one form of the same word gets a laugh, the other a look?
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Re: Klutz

Postby Slava » Thu Dec 12, 2013 5:01 pm

MTC wrote:Inf. to fiddle around; to mess around. Stop some time puzzling over her. While I was puzzling over putzing around and get to work. Those guys spend most why she had slapped me, she did it again, of their time just putzing around.

Wow. This has to be some of the most scrambled English I've seen in many a moon. Do they make any sense to anyone? How ever did they get into that dictionary?
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Re: Klutz

Postby MTC » Thu Dec 12, 2013 7:15 pm

Slava wrote: How ever did they get into that dictionary?


Someone putzing around, I guess. Think I'll email them, and let you know the results.

P.S.

Here's the email:

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs (2002) defines the expression "putz around" as follows:

Inf. to fiddle around; to mess around. Stop some time puzzling over her. While I was puzzling over putzing around and get to work. Those guys spend most why she had slapped me, she did it again, of their time just putzing around.

This is rather scrambled with some parts relevant, others not. Would you please ask the author, Mr. Spears, to explain?

Thanks,

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Re: Klutz

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:05 pm

It sounds a lot like what Siri does to my dictation sometimes. Or auto-correct.
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Re: Klutz

Postby MTC » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:49 pm

Or "auto-distort." Dragon software was still an innovation with a lot of problems when I last practiced law. Has it improved significantly over the last decade? The scrambled entry on "putzing around" went to press in the year 2002. Perhaps it is a Mountweazel. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fictitious_entry)
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Re: Klutz

Postby bamaboy56 » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:47 pm

I'm more familiar with Spanish than I am Yiddish. A similar thing as "putz" happens in Spanish, though, where a word in one area means one thing and the same word in another area will get you in trouble. I never knew the word putz was offensive. Perhaps I need to be more careful when I use it. I've always known it to mean a clumsy person. On another note, I've been having some serious computer problems lately and have not had access to my emails for over a month. Kind of feels like I've fallen off the face of the earth. Not so, my friends! I believe I've got the problems solved now.
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Re: Klutz

Postby MTC » Sat Dec 14, 2013 12:53 am

Welcome back to the cyber fold, bamaboy.
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Re: Klutz

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:24 pm

I downloaded Dragon on the recommendation of a friend. It seems to work fine, but I cannot find a way to save what I write. Ergo I use something else.
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