• kibitz •
ki-bits • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: 1. To observe, giving unwanted advice; to be a meddlesome onlooker. 2. To chat, chew the fat, kill time.
Notes: Some of us find it difficult to limit ourselves to one B in spelling this word. Be sure you use Bs sparingly in writing this word; don't be influenced by kibbutz "Israeli collective farm". Also, the final letter is Z, not the S it sounds like. Someone who kibitzes is a kibitzer, given to kibitzing.
In Play: This word originally referred to someone watching a card game without participating: "It's your turn to deal, Sharky; are you playing or kibitzing?" However, today it refers to an onlooker who offers unwanted advice of any kind: "Why just kibitz, Lloyd? Grab a brush and help with the painting!"
Word History: Today's Good Word is another gift of Yiddish. It is an adaptation of kibitsen "to offer gratuitous advice", from German kiebitzen "to kibitz". The German word originated in a term in thieves' cant meaning "to visit," from Kiebitz "lapwing, pewit", a bird noted for the male's hovering and diving mating flight above his intended mate. The origin of the name Kiebitz itself is unknown. (We are grateful that Gianni Tamburini is no kibitzer for it was he who suggested today's Good Word.)
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