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From Yiddish שלעפּן (shlepn, to drag), from Middle High German slepen, from Middle Low German slêpen, from or related to Old High German sleifen (to drag) and slifan (to slip), from Proto-West Germanic *sleupan.[1]

Compare German schleppen (to haul) and its inherited doublet schleifen (to drag), Dutch slepen (to drag), Danish slæbe (to haul).


  • IPA(key): /ʃlɛp/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛp


schlep (third-person singular simple present schleps, present participle schlepping, simple past and past participle schlepped)

  1. (transitive, informal) To carry, drag, or lug.
    I'm exhausted after schlepping those packages around all day.
    • 1957 September 29, Paul Sann, New York Post:
      Queen Elizabeth will schlep along 95 pieces of baggage on her trip here.
    • 1993, George Alec Effinger, Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson, New York, N.Y.: Guild America Books, →ISBN, page 100:
      Yet what does the universe do to me? It schleps me to Sherwood Forest—and a Sherwood Forest like spotlessly sans Kevin Costner, no less—and then schleps me to your house, then schleps me to God—and I do mean God—knows where, []
    • 1997, Alan M[orton] Dershowitz, “Be a Mensch!: The Ethical Solution to the Jewish Question of the Twenty-first Century”, in The Vanishing American Jew: In Search of Jewish Identity for the Next Century, Little, Brown and Company, →ISBN, page 259:
      My son has a terrible marriage. His lazy wife lies in bed all morning and doesn't even make him breakfast. Then she spends the afternoon at the beauty parlor, and as soon as my son gets home from a hard day's work, she shleps him out to a restaurant. My daughter, on the other hand, has a perfect marriage. Her husband lets her sleep late in the morning, insists that she go to the beauty parlor, and then takes her out to dinner every night.
    • 2006, Kyle Ezell, Retire Downtown: The Lifestyle Destination for Active Retirees and Empty Nesters, Kansas City, Mo.: Andrews McMeel Publishing, →ISBN, page 49:
      Schlepping is Yiddish for "toting or dragging around," and a quintessentially New York City kind of term. New Yorkers schlep food, household goods, and any conceivable purchase on the subways, up the stairs, on elevators, and on buses. Some also schlep goods on bicycles and motor scooters. Whichever downtown you choose, you'll practice your own version of schlepping.
    • 2008, James Harding, Alpha Dogs: How Political Spin Became a Global Business, London: Atlantic Books, →ISBN:
      We find that what people think is secondary in importance to how people think. What people think, in our opinion, the what, should be viewed as a vehicle that schleps—scientific language—that schleps the how.
  2. (intransitive, informal) To go, as on an errand; to carry out a task.
    I schlepped down to the store for some milk.
    • 2005, Joe Marasco, The Software Development Edge: Essays on Managing Successful Projects, Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Addison-Wesley, →ISBN:
      You are not doing a lot of heavy thinking when you are schlepping; you are performing useful but perhaps menial labor, usually in the service of someone else. Schlepping is not very glorious, but nonetheless one should not underestimate its importance. First of all, just because you are schlepping does not mean you are forbidden to think. In fact, just the opposite is true: Because the work content of schlepping includes little thinking, you can use this time to think and learn while you schlep. Many creative ideas occur during schlepping. For instance, how can I schlep this stuff with less effort?
    • 2014, Amanda Prowse, Christmas for One, London: Head of Zeus, →ISBN:
      'I've schlepped all over town trying to find you.' Her tone was almost scolding as she stepped forward and grabbed her daughter in an elaborate hug.
  3. (intransitive, informal) To act in a slovenly, lazy, or sloppy manner.
    Synonym: schlump
    I just schlepped around the house on Sunday.

Usage notes[edit]

The word is often used in the context of something dull or unpleasant to do.

Alternative forms[edit]



schlep (plural schleps)

  1. (informal) A long or burdensome journey.
    Sure you can go across town to get that, but it'd be a schlep.
    • 2011, Isabel Gillies, A Year and Six Seconds: A Love Story, New York, N.Y.: Hyperion Books, →ISBN:
      The walk was a schlep, but it was a schlep Wallace and I did together. I was singing the song about the letters of the alphabet and about alligators and balloons from the Maurice Sendak book that Carole King put to music.
  2. (informal) A boring person, a drag; a good-for-nothing person.
    • 1976 January 26, William F. Winkler, “Letters”, in New York, volume 9, number 4, New York, N.Y.: NYM Corporation, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 6:
      For every genuine, sincere, perceptive resident who is capable and willing to work and sacrifice, you've got 200-plus who are permanently classifiable as either hustlers, rip-off artists, freeloaders, ganefs, shleps, or out-and-out shmucks!
    • 1983, Ed Ward, w:Michael Bloomfield: The Rise and Fall of an American Guitar Hero, New York, N.Y.: Cherry Lane Books, →ISBN:
      You dug Albert King. You notice his band is absolutely nothing. They were dead schleps, dead schleps playing behind him and Albert was the only one who really measured up to Albert's own sound. It was like they were old tired blues players and it was a drag. But Albert was exquisite.
    • 2000, Marion Meade, The Unruly Life of Woody Allen: A Biography, New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, page 114:
      The shocking thing was that he was forty and still chasing girls, still a schlep who was obviously stuck in his adolescent pursuit of sex.
    • 2009, Kirk D. Sinclair, Systems Out of Balance: How Misinformation Hurts the Middle Class, Minneapolis, Minn.: Hill City Press, →ISBN, page 114:
      Economic scholars might assert that unscholarly, middle class schleps outside the field of economics have no authority to write essays that make such ignorant claims.
  3. (informal) A sloppy or slovenly person.
    • 2005, Nancy Gerber, Losing a Life: A Daughter's Memoir of Caregiving, Lanham, Md.: Hamilton Press, University Press of America, →ISBN, page 5:
      My father had class? I was completely taken aback. I had never heard my father described that way. To me, he was not a European gentleman but a schlep, someone who preferred chinos to gabardine, comfort to style. My mother used to say that if she hadn't made him go shopping, he would still be wearing the same ugly suits he wore in the fifties.
  4. (informal) A “pull” or influence.
    He must have had a lot of schlep to get such good seats.

Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2024) “schlep”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.