N.Y. Observer: "shyster" is anti-semitic slur

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Wed Apr 16 17:04:47 UTC 2003

On Wed, Apr 16, 2003 at 12:58:24PM -0400, Laurence Horn wrote:
> I remember Jerry's and Barry's postings on _shyster_, and the
> evidence for its derivation from the earlier cant word _shiser_ and,
> ultimately, from Ger. _Scheisser_ (= someone worth shit).  But the
> "loaded with anti-Semitism" claim seems not to state an incorrect
> etymological theory (although From what Jesse says there's an
> incorrect theory provided in the article as well) as much as describe
> what A. W. Read would have called the "trajectory" of the lexical
> item through history.    Can we assume that this, if true, involves
> the interference between _shyster_ and Shylock?  (This would amount
> to a Jewish version of the "niggardly" flap from a few years ago.)

The article does draw a connection between _shyster_ and Shylock.
A direct link (I've now discovered) is at:


Anyone have opinions on the anti-Semitic flavor of the word,
etymology aside?

Jesse Sheidlower

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