It's a Nativity scene, you putz!

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Wed Apr 3 23:01:59 UTC 2002

Yes, it's very common in Minnesota, and I think I've heard it in Ohio too,
with the diddle daddle meaning.

At 02:33 PM 4/3/02 -0800, you wrote:
>I had never heard of the 'nativity scene' meaning, but was familiar with
>'objectionable person'  and 'penis.'   However, in Minnesota, I learned
>another meaning: to diddle daddle around, as in "Tomorrow, I'm gonna just
>putz around the the house."  I had assumed it was from German 'putzen' to
> >>> rgage at INTRAH.ORG 04/03/02 01:08PM >>>
>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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Beverly Olson Flanigan         Department of Linguistics
Ohio University                     Athens, OH  45701
Ph.: (740) 593-4568              Fax: (740) 593-2967

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