This couplet by Peretz (from "The Ballad of Monisch") describes how the Rabbi's wife has neglected to pay attention to her cooking on the stove:

“Es Lauft die Jauch, die Millech brennt

Un sie sitzt, verlegt die Händt.”

We have "broth" for Jauch, but my German dictionary gives me something disgusting that you wouldn't be cooking on top of your stove. I wonder if anyone would like to comment on the possible evolution of this term?

EDIT: I forgot to include a phonetic transcription for the Yiddish: we would have,

"es loyft di yoych, di millech brennt, un sie sitzt, farleygt di hent."

2 Answers 2


Im Grimm steht alles, auch das hier über Jauche:

trübe flüssigkeit, flüssiger dünger. das wort gehört zu denen, die ihren ursprünglichen begriff verschlechtert haben; es bedeutet im 15. jahrh., wo es sich zuerst landschaftlich, mitteldeutsch und niederdeutsch, nachweisen läszt, sowie im 16., nur brühe, suppe: jus juche

This translates that regionally up to the 16th century the meaning indeed was broth or soup. Only later the meaning of "Jauche" diminished.

Interestingly for the synonym "Brühe" we do have both meanings still:

  1. aus Fleisch, Knochen, Gemüse u. a. gekochte klare Suppe
    (landschaftlich) Gemüsebrühe
  2. (umgangssprachlich abwertend) dünner Kaffee, Tee o. Ä.
  3. (abwertend) verschmutztes Wasser, schmutzige Flüssigkeit
  4. (umgangssprachlich) Schweiß


  • Great! I posted my response to John Smithers just before your explanation appeared. Very nice. I am fascinated by the remark that there is a class of words whose meaning has become more negative, because I have a couple more Yiddish examples; but maybe I will put that in a new question. Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 22:03

I guess the disgusting thing is Jauche. Etymologically it comes from the Sorbian word "jucha" which means "Brühe". And "Brühe" is the English "broth".

Jauche and broth are both liquids, so I wouldn't be surprised about that change of the meaning. If you mess up your broth and it does not taste, then people may say, it smells like (liquid) manure. That could be the origin in the change of meaning.

  • Well, John, it sounds from your etymology that it was the Germans, not the Jews, who changed the meaning. If the original Sorbian term meant "broth". (And yes, Yiddish scholars do speak of Old Sorbian as a source of Yiddish.) Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 21:58
  • @Marty: I have no idea who changed the meaning. Is that relevant? Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 22:02
  • 1
    It's pretty interesting to me. Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 22:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.