1. (derogatory) Yiddish
term for a black woman
(Schvartzer for a man or boy). Not so nasty as the 'n' word, but harsher than 'colored' or 'negro' in American English at the same time period
(up through 1970's). Ironic also, since many Yiddish
terms in Europe developed
around maintaining privacy and concealing meaning from
hostile non-Jewish German and Russian speakers
, and many Yiddish speakers
in the US through the 1960's believed black people, even the servants
they employed, did not pick up on this.
Black maid picks up ringing
telephone, New York City, ca. 1965: "Hello, Rubenfein residence."
Jewish woman of a certain age says: "Adele, is that you?"
The maid replies, "No. Mrs. Rubinfein is out, may I take
The other woman: "Who is this?!"
The maid again, weary: "This is the schvartze."
(True story, I knew all the parties involved, though I changed the names)