Is ‘Boss’ a word in English?!

| Linda Brown | Word & Idioms

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First and foremost, if by any chance you happen to know Bruce Springsteen, please share this post with him.

Down to business: the word ‘Boss’ is a transformation of the Hebrew idiom ‘Ba’al Habayit’, meaning master of house or business owner. In Yiddish – an Ashkenazi Jewish language – it was pronounced ‘Ba’al Habojes’ and later just ‘Balboos’. 

400 years ago, following an immigration wave of jews to the Netherlands the terms assimilated into dutch as ‘bolleboos’, and became synonymous with master or intelligent person. Later, dutch immigrants to the new continent Americanized ‘bolleboos’ to ‘Boss’.

So yes,  ‘Boss’ is definitely a word in English, but nonetheless a Jewish-Dutch immigrant 🙂

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And for those interested in other words who made their way from Yiddish to the wild west, here’ s a partial list

  • Bagel: A ring-shaped bread roll made by boiling or steaming, and then baking, the dough 
  • Bris: The circumcision of a male child. 
  • Bupkis (also Bupkes, Bupkus, Bubkis, Bubkes): Emphatically nothing, as in ‘He isn’t worth bupkis’ 
  • Chutzpah: Nerve, guts, balls, daring, audacity, effrontery 
  • Dreck: Worthless, distasteful, or nonsensical material 
  • Dybbuk: The malevolent spirit of a dead person that enters and controls a living body 
  • Glitch: A minor malfunction 
  • Golem: A man-made humanoid; an android, Frankenstein monster
  • Goy: A gentile, term for someone not of the Jewish faith or people 
  • Kibitz: To offer unwanted advice, e.g. to someone playing cards; to converse idly, hence a kibitzer, gossip 
  • Klutz: A clumsy person 
  • Kosher: Correct according to Jewish law, normally used in reference to Jewish dietary laws; (slang) appropriate, legitimate
  • Lox: Cured salmon, sometimes referred to as Nova, often used loosely to refer to smoked salmon
  • Maven: Expert, aficionado 
  • Mazel tov, also Mazal tov: Congratulations! 
  • Megillah: A tediously detailed discourse. English as “the whole Megillah” meaning an overly extended explanation or story.
  • Mensch: An upright man; a decent human being 
  • Meshuga, also Meshugge: a crazy man or woman, respectively.
  • Minyan: The quorum of ten adults 
  • Jews that is necessary for the holding of a public worship service. 
  • Nudnik: A pest, “pain in the neck”; a bore 
  • Oy or Oy vey: An interjection of grief, pain, or horror 
  • Pareve: Containing neither meat nor dairy products 
  • Pisher: a nobody, an inexperienced person 
  • Putz: A penis, term used as an insult 
  • Schmaltz: Melted chicken fat; excessive sentimentality 
  • Schmo: A stupid person (an alteration of schmuck)
  • Schmooze: To converse informally, make small talk or chat.
  • Schmuck: (vulgar) A contemptible or foolish person; a jerk; 
  • Schnorrer: beggar, esp. “one who wheedles others into supplying his wants”
  • Shtick: Comic theme; a defining habit or distinguishing feature or business 
  • Shul: a synagogue (from Middle High German: schuol, ‘school’) 
  • Spiel or Shpiel: A sales pitch or speech intended to persuade 
  • Tuchus: The buttocks, bottom, rear end
  • Yenta: A talkative woman; a gossip; a scold 
  • Yom Kippur

And for those interested in other words who made their way from Yiddish to the wild west, here’ s a partial list

  • Bagel: A ring-shaped bread roll made by boiling or steaming, and then baking, the dough 
  • Bris: The circumcision of a male child. 
  • Bupkis (also Bupkes, Bupkus, Bubkis, Bubkes): Emphatically nothing, as in ‘He isn’t worth bupkis’ 
  • Chutzpah: Nerve, guts, balls, daring, audacity, effrontery 
  • Dreck: Worthless, distasteful, or nonsensical material 
  • Dybbuk: The malevolent spirit of a dead person that enters and controls a living body 
  • Glitch: A minor malfunction 
  • Golem: A man-made humanoid; an android, Frankenstein monster
  • Goy: A gentile, term for someone not of the Jewish faith or people 
  • Kibitz: To offer unwanted advice, e.g. to someone playing cards; to converse idly, hence a kibitzer, gossip 
  • Klutz: A clumsy person 
  • Kosher: Correct according to Jewish law, normally used in reference to Jewish dietary laws; (slang) appropriate, legitimate
  • Lox: Cured salmon, sometimes referred to as Nova, often used loosely to refer to smoked salmon
  • Maven: Expert, aficionado 
  • Mazel tov, also Mazal tov: Congratulations! 
  • Megillah: A tediously detailed discourse. English as “the whole Megillah” meaning an overly extended explanation or story.
  • Mensch: An upright man; a decent human being 
  • Meshuga, also Meshugge: a crazy man or woman, respectively.
  • Minyan: The quorum of ten adults 
  • Jews that is necessary for the holding of a public worship service. 
  • Nudnik: A pest, “pain in the neck”; a bore 
  • Oy or Oy vey: An interjection of grief, pain, or horror 
  • Pareve: Containing neither meat nor dairy products 
  • Pisher: a nobody, an inexperienced person 
  • Putz: A penis, term used as an insult 
  • Schmaltz: Melted chicken fat; excessive sentimentality 
  • Schmo: A stupid person (an alteration of schmuck)
  • Schmooze: To converse informally, make small talk or chat.
  • Schmuck: (vulgar) A contemptible or foolish person; a jerk; 
  • Schnorrer: beggar, esp. “one who wheedles others into supplying his wants”
  • Shtick: Comic theme; a defining habit or distinguishing feature or business 
  • Shul: a synagogue (from Middle High German: schuol, ‘school’) 
  • Spiel or Shpiel: A sales pitch or speech intended to persuade 
  • Tuchus: The buttocks, bottom, rear end
  • Yenta: A talkative woman; a gossip; a scold 
  • Yom Kippur