schlemiel

Definition

Slang

  • noun a fool, clumsy unfortunate, loser. A Yiddish word (pronounced ‘shler-meal’) used with a mixture of pity and contempt. In 1813 von Chamisso wrote Peter Schlemihl’s Wunderbare Geschlichte; a parable describing a man selling his shadow and his soul. The author probably took the name from Schlumiel, a biblical general notorious for losing battles.
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