the big tsimmis

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Nov 29 18:54:57 UTC 2010

At 1:31 PM -0500 11/29/10, Victor Steinbok wrote:
>Yet another--previously unknown to me--Yiddishism, in a guest Language
>Log post, of all places. The discussion is about the follow-up on Prof.
>Sutherland's research comments on Jane Austen editing.
>>The big tsimmis that ensued when the online archive went live is no
>>surprise, really, and it may in the end prove illuminating and useful.
>There are, obviously, variations in spelling of (and recipes for)
>"tsimmis", but all revolve around the consonants [TS-M-S]. For most
>Ashkenazi Jews, the original word represents a carrot stew, usually with
>a substantial amount of fat, that may contain meat, raisins, large or
>small basic dumplings (e.g., "kishkeh"), even cabbage. But the main
>ingredient is carrots. Turning it into this "big tsimmis" usage is
>somewhat difficult, although it can be a logical counterpart to "soup"
>or "stew" in similar Anglo expressions. Perhaps it's derived from a
>Yiddish idiom. Or, perhaps, it's a mistake for "tsores" (a.k.a.
>"tsuris"--or anything in between-- =="trouble"). I'd be very interested
>in finding out more.
I've always heard "tsuris" used as a mass noun, while
"tsimmes"/"tsimmis" is a count noun, and I take the meanings to be
roughly 'trouble' and 'mess' respectively (while also recognizing
that the latter is literally the term for the stew you mention).  You
can make a tsimmis (either literally or figuratively) or you can be
in tsuris, but not vice versa. YMMV.  Mark?


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