Shmooze It

Thanks to Mordechai Schiller for explaining the difference between “shmooze” and “shmuess” [“Shmooze Control,” December 26, 2018] (and their origin in Hebrew), which bothered me for some time. However, didn’t Frumspeak: the First Dictionary of Yeshivish omit a fifth usage of shmooze — the transitive verb: to shmooze someone? As in “he may help you, if you shmooze him first,” which is in essence a more colloquial example of the Merriam-Webster definition “to chat … to gain favor, etc.”

Would Michael Wex advocate that we should be avoiding shmoozing other people, in our speech at least?



Mordechai Schiller responds:

Thank you. Glad to be of service.

I can’t speak for Michael Wex, but he’s clearly down on the whole idea of shmoozing=networking, transitive or in transit.

I’ve seen the usage you mention. That takes shmooze even more into the realm of strategic socializing. It’s often used in association with “working a room.” That’s light years from its original meaning. It reminds me of the New Yorker cartoon of a woman bringing her dog to a local park with a sign “DOG RUN.” The dog, more sheepish than sheep dog, clearly wants to just go home. The woman points and orders the dog into the park: “Schmooze!”