Wiktionary:About Yiddish

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Yiddish (Wiktionary code {{yi}}) is a Germanic language traditionally spoken by Ashkenazi Jews. This page outlines current guidelines about Yiddish on Wiktionary that are not policy, but can be enforced by Yiddish editors.


Yiddish is a language spectrum with many dialects, each based on a substratum language. Although Ethnologue makes the distinction between 'Western Yiddish' and 'Eastern Yiddish', at Wiktionary all entries are treated under the macrolanguage 'Yiddish'. Only ==Yiddish== can be used as a header.

Certain terms have only come into being in the Hasidic communities in the US. These terms should be placed in Category:American Yiddish and marked as such.

All transliteration is based on the Litvish dialect, but pronunciation can be in any dialect, so long as it is marked with {{a}}.

Alphabet and transliterationEdit

The following transliteration standard is to be used for all translations and in entries. It is mainly based on YIVO standard transliteration, but with some minor differences. Note that the only Unicode ligature used is ײַ‎ (ײ + Patach). Any alternatives or letters that map to the same transliteration (or transliterations that map to the same letter) are context-based, depending on position in the word, whether the word is of Semitic origin, and in the case of יִ and וּ, whether it follows another י or a ו, respectively.

א אַ אָ ב בֿ ג ד דזש ה ו וּ וו וי ז זש ח ט טש י יִ יי ײַ כּ כ/ך ל מ/ם נ/ן ס ע פֿ/ף פּ צ/ץ ק ר ש שׂ תּ ת
[ø] a o b v g d dzh h u u v oy z zh kh t tsh y/i i ey ay k kh l m n s e f p ts k r sh s t s



Normal entries should have titles that use all appropriate diacritical marks, including subscript vowels and other niqqudim, unless they are Hebrew derivations, in which case they may have titles spelled the same way as their Hebrew etyma, if they are in fact attested with that spelling. The allowed characters in entry titles can be found in the first row of this chart. Any entries that do not follow these guidelines can only exist with the template {{yi-unpointed form of}} on the definition line (please see that template's documentation for more information).


The lemma form for verbs is the infinitive. Verbs should use {{yi-verb}}, which must take the argument tr= with the transliteration. Verbs should have a ===Conjugation=== section with the appropriate template (chosen based on the verbal stem). {{yi-conj}} is the most regular; the others are based on mildly irregular stem endings. Irregular past participles can be supplied with past= (and pasttr= for the transliterations) and a value of past=n automatically forms the past participle with /-n/ rather than /-t/. If the auxiliary verb used for the past tense is זײַן (zayn), supply aux=z. For an example, see שווימען (shvimen).


The lemma form for nouns is the singular (in the nominative, in terms that are declined). Nouns should use {{yi-noun}}, which must take the arguments g= for gender and tr= for transliteration, as can also take many other arguments for such things as the plural and diminutive, documentation of which can be found here.


The lemma form for adjectives is the neuter indefinite. The headline should use {{yi-adj}}. In a ===Declension=== section, one of the following templates can be supplied. Most adjectives can use {{yi-adj-1}} (for example, see גוט (gut)), which takes one unnamed argument, the transliteration. Adjectives that end in a final letter (that is, ך, ץ, ף, ם, or ן) should use {{yi-adj-final}} and call it with two unnamed arguments, the spelling of the word with the final letter replaced by its medial form and the transliteration (for example, see מוטערלעך (muterlekh)), but those ending in /-n/ or /-m/ should use {{yi-adj-n}} and {{yi-adj-m}} respectively, with the same arguments. Those ending with a vowel or a diphthong should use {{yi-adj-vowel}}, and it just requires the transliteration.

Other parts of speechEdit

Templates for other parts of speech tend to be more straightforward. All use tr= to supply the transliteration. For a complete list, please see Category:Yiddish headword-line templates.


All entries should be solely in the Hebrew script. Sometimes English will borrow a term and put it in the Latin script, but such a use can only cite an English definition under the ==English== header. Uses of terms in Latin script in running Yiddish text can be used to cite terms with headwords in the Hebrew script if and only if the source's transliteration allows one to reconstruct the original spelling without any ambiguity or uncertainty.


Etymologies should trace back to Old High German and Hebrew where appropriate, and can go back to Proto-Germanic or Proto-Slavic, but should not be listed as deriving from a modern language like German or Polish unless it is known for certain that it is true. Otherwise, use phrasing like "compare Polish foo".

If a word in another language has an etymology that traces back to Yiddish, it may be listed under a ===Descendants=== section in the Yiddish entry.


According to WT:CFI, terms in Yiddish need only one use or mention in a durably archived source per sense to be considered attested. Dictionaries may be cited in bibliographic format in a ===References=== section, but quotations should be formatted according to WT:QUOTE. If more than zero citations but less than three actual uses are present in an entry, it is recommended that {{LDL|yi}} is placed near the bottom of an entry, which creates the following box:

This entry has fewer than three known examples of actual usage, the minimum considered necessary for clear attestation, and may not be reliable. Yiddish is subject to a special exemption for languages with limited documentation. If you speak it, please consider editing this entry or adding citations. See also Help and the Community Portal.

If a term does not appear to be citeable, the {{rfv}} template can be placed on it and it can be posted at WT:RFV.


Editors who speak Yiddish can be found at Category:User yi. If you speak Yiddish, you can add yourself to the list by using a BabelBox.

Last modified on 2 January 2014, at 18:10