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

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

Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster

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.

Meh... will you listen already?Credit: AP

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


The Orion nebula, photographed in 2009 by the Spitzer Telescope.

What if the Big Bang Never Actually Happened?

Relatives mourn during the funeral of four teenage Palestinians from the Nijm family killed by an errant rocket in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip, August 7.

Why Palestinian Islamic Jihad Rockets Kill So Many Palestinians

בן גוריון

'Strangers in My House': Letters Expelled Palestinian Sent Ben-Gurion in 1948, Revealed


AIPAC vs. American Jews: The Toxic Victories of the 'pro-Israel' Lobby

Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic speaks during a press conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia in May.

‘This Is Crazy’: Israeli Embassy Memo Stirs Political Storm in the Balkans

Hamas militants take part in a military parade in Gaza.

Israel Rewards Hamas for Its Restraint During Gaza Op