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Title: Shegetz  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Shiksa, Jewish culture, Abomination (Bible), Yiddish words and phrases, Yiddish words used in English
Collection: Ethnic and Religious Slurs, Jewish Culture, Yiddish Words and Phrases
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Shegetz (שייגעץ or in Hebrew שֵׁיְגֶּץ; alternative Romanizations incl. shaygetz, sheigetz, shaigetz, sheygets; plural שגאצים shkotzim, shgatzim) is a Yiddish word that has entered English to refer to a non-Jewish boy or young man. Although shegetz, like its feminine counterpart shiksa, comes from the Hebrew sheketz ("detestable," "abomination", "loathed", "blemish") and literally translates as "rascal", "scoundrel" or "varmint", its pejorative connotations range from negligible to severe, depending on the context. In former times, it was common practice for Jews in Eastern Europe who were harassed by youths to label their tormentors shkotzim. Nacham Grossbard of Haifa, writing in the Memorial Book for the Community of Ciechanów (1962), recounted these memories of his early years in Poland: "At the finish of the match, as soon as the whistle blows, we Jewish boys run as fast as we can, out of breath, all the way home in order not to have stones thrown at us or be hit by the shkotzim (non-Jewish boys)."[1]

In recent years in the United States and other English-speaking countries with large populations of bilingual Yiddish-English speakers, the word has resurfaced, but lost much of its link to the original etymology of filth and inhumanity.

While shegetz may still be used derogatorily, it has become more of a reference to carefree youths who have traded the set of "Jewish values" for another that is hardly distinguishable from that held by their non-Jewish neighbors.

When a Jew calls another Jew a shegetz, it is often in condemnation of behavior or a lifestyle the speaker does not consider Jewish enough. Some disaffected religious Jews label themselves shkotzim in an ironic take on the word. The term has enjoyed less currency in English than the feminine shiksa, which may carry particularly strong connotations of licentiousness and promiscuity. However, all the above caveats also apply to the usage of shiksa.

See also


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