6 Responses to “shtum”

  1. Vardibidian

    In my experience, this is in use in postwar British slang to specifically mean secret-keeping. That is, people can keep shtum about something specific, or more generally keep shtum to the police, but you couldn’t say something like *the crowd went shtum or *she was a shy child and always shtum before adults. I believe you could use it to mean shuddup, though.

    It’s interesting (well, to me) how bits and bobs of yiddish wound up in spiv slang as well as in gay slang. The cross-pollination of those is also interesting, but as that subject is ranging far from the original post, I will keep shtum.

    Thanks,
    -V.

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    • Jed

      Interesting! And if you have further thoughts on Yiddish and spy slang, I would love to hear them, either in comments here or in a separate post.

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      • Vardibidian

        Not spy, spiv—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiv (or “wide boy”). The Monty Python character Heidi P refers to is a spiv. Is that another new word for you or were you just reading faster than your eyes?

        Thanks,
        -V.

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        • Jed

          Heh—I think it is a new word for me, and I’m amused that I completely misread it. I think I was primed for that misreading by seeing words like “postwar,” “secret-keeping,” and “shy” (three-letter word starting with s and ending with y) in your comment.

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          • Vardibidian

            Also it would be cool to know spy slang. Much cooler than knowing spiv slang.
            -V.

            [Imagines a movie where the post-war British spies on the other side of the Iron Curtain all have double-breasted suits and rows of watches sewn into the inside of the jacket.]

  2. Heidi P

    Ahh, I remember hearing this word in a Monty Python skit and assuming it was gibberish. Now I know better! Thank you

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