• noun a pitiful, foolish or obnoxious person, usually male. Schmuck is from the Yiddish word shmok, itself from the German schmuck, meaning ornament. In Yiddish the word was used first as a euphemism for the male member, it then became a synonym for the English prick, figuratively as well as literally. As employed today, especially by non-Jewish speakers, schmuck is a fairly mild term of abuse, often used ruefully, despairingly or affectionately. It was perceived as an obscenity in the USA for many years with the result that the euphemism shmo was invented in the 1940s.