Word of the Day / Eh Beh Tzigeleh Meh: 'Cut It Out!'

It’s time to quit kidding around and start listening to your mother.

Your mother asks you to take out the garbage. You don’t want to but truth be told, you have no good excuse. Nor can you think of one. You have no broken limbs or even bruised ones. There is no monster lurking by the can, maybe some flies but that’s hardly a reasonable deterrent.

You refuse. “I have homework,” you say.

“You’re 36,” your mother answers. “Take out the trash.”

“I can’t,” you squeal and mumble something about looming war, if not with Iran than with the upstairs neighbor whose dog sheds on the staircase.

Eh beh tzigeleh meh,” your mother snaps. “Stop procrastinating and Take. It. Out.”

“Eh beh tzigeleh meh” originates with a Yiddish folk song and literally means, “The kid goes beh meh,” kid referring to baby goat, not you. The cow goes moo, the cat goes meow and so on. But for generations of Hebrew-speakers it has come to mean our evasions – the babble we emit - when we have no good excuse. In other words, your mother is saying, “Cut it out. Stop playing mind games and do what I asked you to.”

Shoshana Kordova is on leave. For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day.