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yiddish for dogs: chutzpaw

01 April 2011

Here are a couple of words to animate your conversations this weekend, and a chance to add a little Yiddish to your life:

chutz·pah (noun)


1. unmitigated effrontery or gall.

2. personal confidence or courage that allows someone to do or say things that may seem shocking to others

Example: It took a lot of chutzpah to stand up to him the way she did.

chutz·paw (noun)


Audacity, nerve, or impudence shown by an individual dog, especially in the home.

Example: By sauntering past its owner and jumping on the couch, the great dane puppy showed that it was not lacking in chutzpaw.

Chutzpaw is for those walk-to-the-front-of-the-line moments when your dog does something so brazen that it simultaneously elicits both reproval and silent applause from you.

Without cable TV in our home and access to shows that would have otherwise introduced her to the chutzpah of Donald Trump and other excessively confident hosts, I’m not sure where Luna’s picking up on this behavior.

It’s a Girl Thing?

Yiddish for dogs: when chutzpah becomes chutzpaw

excuse me, you mistook me for someone who cares what you think

Apparently, B2 believes that it is inherent with girl puppies. That’s what MW told me yesterday. (I believe almost everything my spouse says). Whatever the origin–whether genetic, environmental, or cultural–Luna’s developed it.

It is mischievous and almost always funny in a fortunately non-destructive way. I want to emphasize the frequency of the following examples, which often occur right in front of us:

  • Jumping up on and settling down on the sofa, irrespective of how many times we tell her it is verboten (German for “get off the furniture”)
  • Burying her head in the recycling bag to fish out empty Trader Joe’s packaging. Again and again and again.

You certainly don’t want to reward this audacious behavior, but you can’t deny its panache.

What’s Her End Game?

I’d like to think that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing but deep down, I know she’s executing a plan. I wish I knew what it was.

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