It's a Nativity scene, you putz!

Richard Gage rgage at INTRAH.ORG
Wed Apr 3 21:08:34 UTC 2002

Does anyone know whether the PA Dutch sense of "putz" is still in common
use?  I grew up in Pennsylvania and I can't recall ever hearing it.


[OED entry]:

1. _dial._ In Pennsylvanian Dutch homes, a representation of the
Nativity scene traditionally placed under a Christmas tree.

1902 _N.Y. Times Mag._ 14 Dec. 15/2
Only the chosen few can afford to have a really impressive 'putz'
which fills half a room, and represents a landscape in miniature...
This more elaborate 'putz' requires not only money for its erection,
but artistic handiwork.

1926 _Ladies' Home Jrnl._ Dec. 82/2
The putz is simply the pictured story of the Nativity, built near
or at the base of the Christmas tree.

1938 A. HARK _Hex Marks Spot_ 186
Everybody's curious to see what kind of putz everybody else
has this year, so they go around visiting.

1970 L. M. FEINSILVER _Taste of Yiddish_ i. 44
In Pennsylvania, Jews who know Yiddish are often startled during
the Christmas season by ads inviting the public to some company's
 'putz'... This German word for decoration means, in Pennsylvania
Dutch, a Nativity scene.

2. _slang._ [Yiddish.]
   a. The penis.
   b. A fool, a simpleton; an objectionable person.
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