Joe Shmoe (also spelled Joe Schmoe and Joe Schmo), meaning 'Joe Anybody', or no one in particular, is one of the most commonly used fictional names in American English. Adding a "Shm" to the beginning of a word is meant to diminish, negate, or dismiss an argument (for instance, "Rain, shmain, we've got a game to play"). It can also indicate that the speaker is being ironic or sarcastic. This process was adapted in English from the use of the "schm" prefix in Yiddish to dismiss something; as in, "Fancy, schmancy" (thus denying the claim that something is fancy). While "schmo" ("schmoo", "schmoe") was thought by some linguists to be a clipping of Yiddish שמוק "schmuck", an etymology supported by the Oxford English Dictionary, that derivation is not universally accepted.
- Feinsilver, Lillian Mermin (1956), "Schmo, Schmog, and Schnook", American Speech, Duke UP, 31 (3), pp. 236–37, JSTOR 453695.
- The Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, 1989, retrieved 2008-03-12[permanent dead link].
- Gold, David L. (1988), "Review of Yiddish and English: A Century of Yiddish in America by Sol Steinmetz", American Speech, Duke UP, 63 (3), pp. 276–282, doi:10.2307/454825, JSTOR 454825
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