Definition of the word “Luftmensch”

Jeez, I just posted that Merriam Webster entry while reading through my email, and then I open up the next day’s (today’s) word – even more fascinating, useful and, err, relevant to my current situation:


The Word of the Day for Jul 27 is:
luftmensch \LOOFT-mensh (“OO” as in “foot”)\ noun: an impractical contemplative person having no definite business or income


Example sentence:
“The son …,” wrote American author Irving Howe, “is leaving to be a luftmensch ” a starving poet, a painter without pictures, a radical leader without followers.”
Did you know?
Are you someone who always seems to have your head in the clouds? Do you have trouble getting down to the lowly business of earning a living? If so, you may deserve to be labeled a “luftmensch.” That airy appellation is an adaptation of the Yiddish “luftmentsh,” which breaks down into “luft” (a Germanic root that can be tied linguistically to the English words “loft” and “lofty”), meaning “air,” plus “mentsh,” meaning “human being.” “Luftmensch” was first introduced to English prose in 1907, when Israel Zangwill wrote “The word ‘Luftmensch’ flew into Barstein’s mind. Nehemiah was not an earth-man …. He was an air-man, floating on facile wings.”

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.

 


 

Subscribe to Word of the Day via the Web:
click here

© 2003 by Merriam-Webster,
Incorporated