• schmooze •
shmuz • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive (No object)
Meaning: 1. To engage in a long, casual conversation, to chat, to gossip. 2. To butter up, to chat with in order to gain some advantage.
Notes: Here is yet another contribution to English from Yiddish. It is clearly a part of all English dialects now. It comes with a participle, schmoozing, which serves as an adjective and activity noun. A schmoozer is someone who schmoozes frequently and effectively.
In Play: Schmoozing takes place everywhere, at home ("Billy, see it you can schmooze mom up for $5 so we can go to the movie"), at work ("Schmoozing will get you nowhere. You are far more likely to get promoted if you just keep your nose to the grindstone."), and, of course, on the hustings: "Sidney, you have to spend more time schmoozing millionaires if you want to get elected."
Word History: Today's Good Word, as mentioned above, comes to us from Yiddish, from the word schmues "a chat", the noun for the verb shmuesn "to chat". Yiddish gathered this word from Hebrew shêmuça "report, rumor, something heard", the passive participle of shama "hear, heard". The same root produced the name Ishmael. This name in Hebrew is yishmaçel "God heard", from yishmaç, an archaic past tense of shama "hear, heard" + 'el "God". (Jeremy Busch, a Grand Panjandrum in the Alpha Agora, didn't have to schmooze us at all to get us to run today's amusing Good Word.)
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