Derivative of Joe (as in average Joe). Adding a schm- or shm- to the beginning of a word (see Shm-reduplication) is meant to diminish, negate, or dismiss an argument (for instance, "rain, schmain, we've got a game to play"). This process was adapted in English from the use of the "shm" prefix in Yiddish to dismiss something; as in, "fancy, schmancy." While "Schmoe" (and alternate spellings) are thought by some linguists to be a clipping of Yiddish schmuck (“penis”) but not universally accepted.
- (US, informal) The typical, everyday person who does not have any special status, frequently in contrast to some group.
Can be either derogatory or humorous.
- Feinsilver, Lillian Mermin, 1956, Schmo, Schmog, and Schnook, American Speech, Duke UP, Vol. 31 No. 3, pages 236-237.
- (etymology) schmuck, Oxford English Dictionary, 1989, Oxford University Press
- (etymology) Gold, David L., 1988, Review of Yiddish and English: A Century of Yiddish in America by Sol Steinmetz, American Speech, Duke UP, Vol. 63 No. 3, page 276.