also hutz·pah (KHʊt'spə, hʊt'-) pronunciation
Utter nerve; effrontery: "has the chutzpah to claim a lock on God and morality" (New York Times).

[Yiddish khutspe, from Mishnaic Hebrew ḥuṣpâ, from ḥāṣap, to be insolent.]

Like all Yiddish words that have entered the English lexicon, chutzpah is difficult to translate yet wonderfully useful. In this case, Hillary and Bill Clinton were accused of having chutzpah (nerve, audacity) after they criticized President Bush for commuting Scooter Libby's prison sentence.

"'I don't know what Arkansan is for chutzpah but this is a gigantic case of it,' presidential spokesman Tony Snow said.... Bill Clinton is from the state of Arkansas. Chutzpah is the Yiddish word for brashness.... In the closing hours of his presidency, Clinton pardoned 140 people, including fugitive financier Marc Rich."

Link: Bush spokesman says Clintons have nerve for criticizing Bush on commuting former aide's prison term. - International Herald Tribune

Posted July 9, 2007.

Unmitigated gall, generally unacceptable brazen behavior.
In some types of business, it is regarded as an asset: a positive quality of heroic audacity or guts.

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IN BRIEF: n. - (Yiddish) unbelievable gall. is a free vocabulary and spelling program where you only pay for results!

/'xυtspə/ Also chutzpa, chutzbah /'xυtspə/
Also chutzpa, chutzbah

Brazen impudence, shameless audacity, cheek. (1892 —) .
O. Hesky The sheer chutzpa—the impudence—of defecting...right in front of his own eyes (1967).


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categories related to 'chutzpah'

Random House Word Menu by Stephen Glazier
For a list of words related to chutzpah, see:

For other uses, see Chutzpah (disambiguation).

Chutzpah (/ˈhʊtspə/ or /ˈxʊtspə/[1][2]) is the quality of audacity, for good or for bad. The Yiddish word derives from the Hebrew word ḥutspâ (חֻצְפָּה), meaning "insolence", "cheek" or "audacity". The modern English usage of the word has taken on a broader meaning, having been popularized through vernacular use in film, literature, and television. The word is sometimes interpreted—particularly in business parlance—as meaning the amount of courage, mettle or ardor that an individual has.[citation needed] However in more traditional usage, chutzpah has a negative connotation.


In Hebrew, chutzpah is used indignantly, to describe someone who has overstepped the boundaries of accepted behavior. In traditional usage, the word expresses a strong sense of disapproval, condemnation and outrage.

Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish defines chutzpah as "gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible 'guts', presumption plus arrogance such as no other word and no other language can do justice to". In this sense, chutzpah expresses both strong disapproval and condemnation. In the same work, Rosten also defined the term as "that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan". Chutzpah amounts to a total denial of personal responsibility, that renders others speechless and incredulous ... one cannot quite believe that another person totally lacks common human traits like remorse, regret, guilt, sympathy and insight. The implication is at least some degree of psychopathy in the subject, as well as the awestruck amazement of the observer at the display.

The cognate of chutzpah in Classical Arabic, ḥaṣāfah (حصافة), does not mean "impudence" or "cheekiness" or anything similar, but rather "sound judgment".[3]

Contemporary usage[edit]

Judge Alex Kozinski and Eugene Volokh in an article entitled Lawsuit Shmawsuit, note the rise in use of Yiddish words in legal opinion. They note that chutzpah has been used 231 times in American legal opinions, 220 of those after 1980.[4]

In the movie Haider (2014) by Vishal Bharadwaj, a modern-day interpretation of Hamlet set against the backdrop of Kashmir in the midst of political conflict, the protagonist uses the word chutzpah which they pronounce as /'tʃʊtspə/ instead of /ˈhʊtspə/ or /ˈxʊtspə/ to describe India and Pakistan's way of treating the people of Kashmir since the beginning of the conflict. This pronunciation sounds more like Indian slang.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ חוצפה Dictionary Reference: chutzpah
  2. ^ The Free Dictionary: chutzpah
  3. ^ Wehr, Hans (1994) [1979]. J. Milton Cowan, ed. Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic. Urbana, Illinois: Spoken Language Services, Inc. ISBN 0-87950-003-4. 
  4. ^ Kozinski, Alex; Eugene Volokh (1993). "Lawsuit Shmawsuit". Yale Law Journal (The Yale Law Journal Company, Inc.) 103 (2): 463. doi:10.2307/797101. JSTOR 797101. Retrieved 2007-06-24. 

External links[edit]




Dansk (Danish)
n. - frejdighed grænsende til frækhed

Nederlands (Dutch)

Français (French)
n. - toupet, culot

Deutsch (German)
n. - (ugs.) Chuzpe, Frechheit

Ελληνική (Greek)
n. - ξεδιαντροπιά, αυθάδεια

Italiano (Italian)
faccia tosta, sfacciataggine, impudenza

Português (Portuguese)
n. - bravura (f) (gír.)

Русский (Russian)

Español (Spanish)
n. - caradura

Svenska (Swedish)
n. - fräckhet

中文(简体)(Chinese (Simplified))
厚脸皮, 放肆无礼

中文(繁體)(Chinese (Traditional))
n. - 厚臉皮, 放肆無禮

한국어 (Korean)
n. - 뻔뻔스러움

日本語 (Japanese)
n. - あつかましさ

العربيه (Arabic)
‏(الاسم) جرأة‏

עברית (Hebrew)
n. - ‮חוצפה‬

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