It's a Nativity scene, you putz!

Joan Houston Hall jdhall at FACSTAFF.WISC.EDU
Wed Apr 3 21:28:17 UTC 2002

DARE Volume IV will have some more recent quotes, from 1980, 1987, and 1995
(the last being a reminiscence of the 1940s in southern Wisconsin).

At 04:08 PM 4/3/02 -0500, you wrote:
>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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