Yiddish Word of the Week
Naches - נחת

Naches - נחת \NACH-es\ Noun:

Pleasure, satisfaction, delight; proud enjoyment.

Pronunciation: Click here or here to hear a native Yiddish speaker use this word in conversation.

Synonyms: fargenign (פארגעניגן), genus (גענוס), hanoe (הנאה), mechaye (מחיה), tayneg (תענוג).

German equivalents: die Freude, der Genuss, das Pläsier, das Vergnügen.

Etymology: The word derives from Biblical Hebrew nachat, which ultimately comes from the verb lanuach (לנוח) - to rest, lie, be at ease. The word has entered the English language in the form “nachas” or “naches” and is listed in some dictionaries, including the OED (for those who do not have a subscription, this link will, sadly, not work).

Derivativess of naches: naches-ruach (נחת-רוח) - spiritual pleasure; nachesdik (נחתדיק) - pleasant.

Phrase with naches: shepn/klaybn naches fun di kinder/eyniklech (שעפן/קלייבן נחת פון די קינדער/אייניקלעך) - to derive pleasure from one’s children/grandchildren. This is a hugely popular phrase with Yiddish speakers and Jews in general. “They are shepping naches from their children” is the “Yinglishized” equivalent of this construction. [I am not certain if the name Shep has anything to do with this phrase or not, but it seems possible. Another possibility is that it derives from the plural noun sheps (שעפס) - sheep.]  There is also apparently a version of the phrase, in some circles, that uses the verb shlepn (שלעפן) - to drag - instead of klaybn or shepn. For more on that, see Philologos (who also offers a possible derivation for the phrase based on the verse in Koyheles 4:6). (See the debate about this version on Mendele here and here.) Another common use of the word naches is in characterizing something as particularly Jewish or non-Jewish. If one wishes to say that a mode of entertainment or pleasure inducement is particularly goyish (i.e., no Jew would find it entertaining or pleasurable), one would call it goyishe naches (גוישע נחת). (See Max Weinreich’s treatment of the phrase “goyim-naches,” abbreviated to GN, among German Jews based on its medieval German pietistic origins in the Sefer Chasidim. See also Dovid Katz, who writes that the traditional Yiddish term for hunting was goyishker naches (גוישקער נחת), since it was construed as a particularly goyish pastime.) If, however, the subject under discussion is something which only a Jew would find gratifying or satisfying, one would call it yidishe naches (יידישע נחת). (One rabbi I know likes to joke that Mondays and Thursdays on which the long tachanun prayer is not said because they coincide with happy days/occasions is the epitome of yidishe naches. The same goes for when one has eaten an entire meal to satisfaction but, because one has not eaten bread, is only required to say the short boyrey nefoshes as the concluding blessing.)

Expressions with naches:1. Du zolst krenken in naches (דו זאלסט קרענקען אין נחת) - You should suffer in the midst of pleasure (i.e., you should get all you wanted and suffer all the more for it; see Michael Wex's development of this general motif as a “strategy” in Yiddish cursing). 2. Platzn zolstu fun naches (פלאצן זאלסטו פון נחת) - May you explode from pleasure (meant as a curse; see above).3. Ich shlog aych iber di reyd - ir zolt hobn naches un freyd! (איך שלאג אייך איבער די רייד - איר זאלט האבן נחת און פרייד) - I break in on your words - may you greatly rejoice! (Said in some circles as a polite apology/good wish when one interrupts his friend’s speech.)

Naches in a sentence: Ich hof az mayne leyeners shepn a bisl naches fun di blitzbrivn vos ich shik zey yede voch; oyb nisht, zoln zey krenken in naches! (איך האף אז מיינע לייענערס שעפן א ביסל נחת פון די בליצבריוון וואס איך שיק זיי יעדע וואך, אויב נישט, זאלן זיי קרענקען אין נחת) - I hope that my readers derive a bit of enjoyment from the e-mails I send them each week; if not, they should suffer in the midst of pleasure!

Use naches in your own sentence today!

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