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Mensch

  • Mensch came to English from Yiddish in the 20th century. The Yiddish word comes from a Middle High German word for person, but in Yiddish and English usage, it refers to a decent, admirable person with many good qualities. Like many words from Yiddish, mensch is a welcome addition to the language because there is no exact English one-word equivalent.

    Mensch is new to English and still unfamiliar to many people, so writers often italicize it to signal that it’s a loanword. But if it stays in the language, it will go unitalicized increasingly often.

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    Examples

    Gary Carter, the Hall of Famer and key member of the 1986 world champion New York Mets, was, to use a Yiddish expression, a mensch in every sense of the word. [Queens Chronicle]

    Whatever the cause of my clients’ malaise, I cannot overstate how important it is for executives to learn how to differentiate a mensch from a manipulator without resorting to peoplepredictor.com to do so. [Forbes]

    Adam is a mensch, handles himself with class, and in the end his team is punished for it. [Jewish Journal]

    If he were a smug SOB I might feel differently, but the fact that he’s a true menschmakes me really uncomfortable when people trash him. [comment on The Good Phight]

    Reiner and his old comedy partner Mel Brooks sit down with David Sternberg to talk funny business and be 100 percent delightful mensches. [AV Club]

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