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What is Kvetch and Kvell? back

kvetch
kvetcher (masculine)
kvetcherkeh (feminine)
Pronounced KVETCH, to rhyme with "fetch"; KVETCH-er, to rhyme with "stretcher"; KVETCH-er-keh, to rhyme with "fetch 'er a." (Do not confuse with kvitch or krechtz.) From German: quetschen: "to squeeze," "to press."

Kvetch is a verb and a noun; kvetcher is a man who kvetches;Kvetcherkeh is a female complainer.

A. As a verb
   1. To fret, complain, gripe, grunt, sigh. "What's she kvetching about now?" (An excellant companion to kvetch, in this usage, is krechtz. "All she does is kvetch and krechtz!" can hardly be improved upon for descriptive precision and power.)

B. As a noun
   1. Anyone, male or female, who complains, frets, gripes. A "sad sack" who magnifies minor aches and pains. A chronim complainer. "What a congenital kvetcher!"
   To be strictly grammatical, a female kvetcher should certainly be called a kvetcherkeh, which, through the lilt of euphony, enhances the characterization.

--taken from "The Joys of Yiddish," by Leo Rosten. 1968


kvell
Pronounced exactly as it's spelled. From German: quellen: "to gush," "to swell."

1. To beam-with-immense-pride-and-pleasure, most commonly over an achievement of a child or grandchild; to be so proudly happy "your buttons can bust"; doting-with a grin, conspicuos pride, uncontainable delight. "At their boy's Bar Mitzva, naturally, the kvelled." "Watch her kvell when she reads his report card." "Let me kvell with you over such an honor."

Jewish parents are most energetic in kvelling over their children's endowments (real or illusory), achievments (major or minor), or praise from others (sincere or obligatory).
   One authority I consulted put it this way: "Only from your children can anyone shep (derive) such naches (prideful pleasure) as makes you kvell - know what I mean?"
2. To enjoy, gloat, or crow over someone's defeat or humiliation. "All right, be charitable, don't kvell over his mistake." "Every decent man will kvell when that sadist goes to jail."



The ladies met on the Grand Concourse, Mrs. Blumenfeld carrying her groceries, Mrs. Kovarsky pushing a pram with two little boys in it.
   "Good morning, Mrs. Kovarsky. Such darling little boys! So how old are they?"
   "The doctor," said Mrs. Kovarsky, "is three, and the lawyer is two."

--taken from "The Joys of Yiddish," by Leo Rosten. 1968



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