Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue Jul 31 13:02:42 UTC 2001

>The deafening silence reassures me that it was not my mind playing tricks
>when I failed to recognise 'smouzling'.

Wait, I'm "thinking"! I don't recognize it either, but ...

I suspect "smouzle" is a variant of "smouch" = "pilfer"/"steal". "Smouch"
is said to be an alteration of "smouse" (pronounced like "smouze"),
originally = "Jew", also = "itinerant trader", probably from something
equivalent to "schmooze". These are in Webster's Third and OED. Some years
ago, I heard occasionally "smoudge" (my spelling) = "pilfer", apparently
another variant of "smouch"/"smouse". In German I find "Schmu machen" =
"cheat" [also "schmusen" = "babble" (cognate with "schmooze"?)].

Whether the "-l-" is just an arbitrary English-language augmentation, or
whether it results from a German/Yiddish augmentation (maybe diminutive
suffix?), I don't know. I would also consider the possibility of "smouzle"
< "smouch" + "embezzle", if the context is right.

-- Doug Wilson

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