Discussion in 'English Only' started by giro, Jun 1, 2008.

  1. giro Member

    English USA

    Saw this word this morning intended to mean some sort of bad person, probably a fraud or huckster from the context. The only other place I could find it was in a post in the French-English forum, where it apparently meant a thief or embezzler. I thought perhaps my friend meant to say either shyster or keester, but neither fits. Here is the sentence:

    We need the free speech. We need to let scheisters sink or swim by themselves.
  2. WestSideGal

    WestSideGal Senior Member

    English, US
    It is spelled "shyster", and it does mean disreputable, dishonest, conman; unethical and dishonest laywers are usually referred to as shysters.
  3. lablady

    lablady Senior Member

    Central California
    English - USA
    I agree that shyster fits your description.

    I found an entry about the etymology that explains it a bit more, including the reason for your alternate spelling. :)
  4. giro Member

    English USA
    Nobody can find a word "schiester"? My young friend who used it almost never makes a spelling error, especially on a word as common as shyster. I found a yiddish forum, but apparently the registration process is going to take some time. Anybody here know a lot of Yiddish?
  5. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Giro, I spoke Yiddish growing up, and it is not written in Latin characters, so the spelling is irrelevant. Your friend with the good spelling probably wrote it with the spelling he or she expected in a word of German derivation.

    You could always ask about Yiddish in the Other Languages forum if you want, but I think you have good information from WestSideGal and lablady. :)
  6. giro Member

    English USA
    The Urban dictionary has an entry for it in Dublin Irish as an expletive, I can't find it in an online German dictionary, but I believe there is a word scheister meaning slicer and also figuratively, applied to lawyers.
  7. giro Member

    English USA
    And thanks WestSideGal and Lablady and Nun-translator. Still hoping for someone who can find a reference for the word as spelled. If my young colleague has an answer I'll post it when I hear back. Also have emails out to some native speakers of German and Irish.
  8. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    I have found a few quotes from an entry on the word "scheisser" in a German English reference, but I can't find a dictionary entry that lists it as an alternate spelling. Both spellings ("shyster", "scheister") seem to be in use, although the second looks German while the true German word is "scheisser" with no "t".
    "They are the epitome of stability in a fast shifting culture full of shifty shiftless sheisters." Stephen Powers, The Art of Getting Over: Graffiti at the Millennium, 1999, p. 113.
    "I left them with the parting shot that they should have their scheister call my lawyer, when convenient." Tony & Sandra Midea, A Fool's Guide To Landlording, 2004, p. 115.
  9. RagnarsLodbrokar

    RagnarsLodbrokar Member

    Canada / Montreal / En-Fr
    Yes it means a bullshitter, but it is a slightly cute word if you catch my meaning.
  10. JeffPSU

    JeffPSU Senior Member

    Pennsylvania, USA
    USA - English
    In the US, at least, it refers exclusively to unethical or unaccredited attorneys, and is not cute at all. It's a derogatory term for a lawyer, rather like calling a civil-claims attorney an "ambulance chaser". It almost certainly came into English from Yiddish rather than from German.
  11. Oeco

    Oeco Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    English - US
    I'm from the US and I've never heard of this exclusive use. People or institutions that lend at a usurious rate are also sometimes referred to as shysters. So are unethical politicians as the WordReference dictionary suggests.

    The word schyster comes most certainly from the German Scheisser as has been pointed out. The English suffix "ster" (one who does) is the equivalent of the German "er" in this case. It was likely popularized by its use among Yiddish speakers, but it is originally a German word (see and American Heritage Dictionary 4).

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