semantic change: chutzpah

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Thu Jul 8 18:06:47 UTC 2004

On Jul 8, 2004, at 10:50 AM, Jesse Sheidlower wrote, about positive

> It's not a Yiddishism. HDAS includes this as sense 2, with the
> etymological note that "the positive connotation is an English
> innovation not found in Yiddish". The first example is 1966, though
> I have since come across a 1947 example from Milton Klonsky
> writing in _Commentary._

(sorry that i didn't check HDAS.  that would have required getting up
from my chair, whereas AHD4 is literally to hand.  i'm bone-lazy.)

well, i say this has to stop!  fifty years of creeping niceness!
overly good-hearted people are stealing a perfectly good and useful
word!  what will we call real chutzpah now?  harrumph!

arnold (zwicky at, who doesn't use smileys

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