Word Origin & History

"born loser," 1948, from Yiddish shlim mazel "rotten luck," from M.H.G. slim "crooked" + Heb. mazzal "luck." British slang shemozzle "an unhappy plight" (1889) is probably from the same source.
"A shlemiel is the fellow who climbs to the top of a ladder with a bucket of paint and then drops it. A shimazl is the fellow on whose head the bucket falls." [Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D.-N.Y.), 1986]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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