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From American Yiddish נעביש(nebish), from נעבעך(nebekh, poor, unfortunate).



nebbish (plural nebbishes)

  1. One who is fearful and timid, especially in making decisions and plans, in discussions, debates, arguments, and confrontations, and in taking responsibility.
    Actor Rick Moranis often plays a nebbish.
    • 2001, Foster Hirsh, quoting Woody Allen, Love, Sex, Death, and the Meaning of Life: The Films of Woody Allen[1]:
      “I don't consider myself a nebbish,” Woody told interviewers early in his career, “but everyone else does.”
    • 2018 March 1, Steven Kurutz, quoting Lisa Schwarzbaum, “How Do You Solve a Problem Like ‘Manhattan’?”, in The New York Times[2], →ISSN:
      But as Lisa Schwarzbaum, the former movie critic for Entertainment Weekly, pointed out in an email interview, “‘Manhattan’ was always about a middle-aged man with a high school girlfriend. Back then, ‘Manhattan’ was made by Woody the Lovable Neurotic Nebbish, and now it has been made by Allen the Monster. And it’s the same movie.”
    • 2023 May 14, Alix Strauss, “How the Head of a Filmmaking Center Spends His Sundays”, in The New York Times[3]:
      “Having a camera in my hands transformed a nebbish into someone who could make New York into a better place,” he said. “To help others do the same is important to us.”

Derived terms[edit]