Yiddish: matzoh-punim


Senior Member
Hi there,

Am reading The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine. One passage is about Joseph and Betty meeting a mediator (as they are getting a divorce). Here it is,
"The mediator did not smile. But she did hold out her hand and introduce herself. Her name was Nina Britsky. A matzoh-punim, Betty thought, feeling sad for her."

Does that mean the mediator had a chubby face or something? Because I did find online that punim is Yiddish for face. By the way, is the accent in punim on the first, or the second syllable? And is the "u" pronounced "oo"?

  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    I imagine this is actually a Yiddish word or expression. It's not a common one, in my experience. There are many words that have been adopted into American English from Yiddish but I don't think this is one of them.

    I'm moving this question to the Other Languages forum to see if someone can help you there.


    Senior Member
    The pronunciation as i have said it was: matze(a)h ponim.
    matza is that:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matzo
    so its probably the opposite of what you thought, or its tounge in cheek, its actually a hebrew words, exodus stuff and stuff, bney yisrael got out of egypt,hurried they ate matzot etc etc.


    Senior Member
    Thank you, arielipi! (I was thinking of matzah balls, hence the idea of round, chubby, but now I see your point.)


    New Member
    US, English

    מצה־פּנים, the latter part of which can be pronounced either ponim or poonim (regional variation), actually refers to someone with lots of acne. The reference is due to all the holes on a piece of matzah (put there to aid the baking process).
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