The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success

What is a Mensch?

Remove ads while supporting the Unscripted philosophy...become an INSIDER.

Russ H

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
6,556
1,295
381
58
Napa Valley, CA
I'm not Jewish, but as a writer, I have a great respect for language.

Occasionally, I discover a word and get to know its meaning, but rarely have a chance to use it.

Here's an example of one of those times.

I post it here because it says a lot about how people can choose to do business.

I hope you enjoy it.

-Russ H.

mensch or mensh
from the American Heritage Dictionary:
n. pl. mensch·es or mensch·en Informal
A person having admirable characteristics, such as fortitude and firmness of purpose.

[Yiddish, human being, mensch, from Middle High German, human being, from Old High German mennisco; see man-1 in Indo-European roots.]


**********

I did a small amount of work for the President of MTV about 10 years ago.

He called me to ask a few questions (I remember being in an airport in Australia at the time, and thinking about how surreal my life had become, sitting there talking w/the head of MTV on the other side of the world).

He said that due to construction issues and such, they were not going to be able to use my engineering (I had made some suggestions/done some engineering drawings that could not be integrated without going back to the city for plan review, and this would delay his project for months).

Since I had not entered into a contract with him, I didn't feel right about charging him for work he was not going to use (I had done the work as a rush job, since I was heading out the door to Australia when it hit my desk).

Still, he asked me, "How much time did you put into this? I want to pay you."

After joking around for a bit, I told him that if he paid me, I would be contractually liable for any work that might be done on his house. And that a letter from his atty telling me that they would never hold me responsible would be the nicest thing he could give me, in lieau of payment (since I was, in effect, stopping work before the job was finished).

He laughed and said that if I was serious (I was), that this was no problem at all.

"But I want to do something for you. You've been a great guy, and you deserve to get something for what you've done."

So I asked for a personal recommendation, on MTV letterhead.

He said, "That's it!?" I said, "Yep."

When I got home from Australia, there were 2 Fed Exs waiting for me from him.

In one was the letter of recommendation, on MTV letterhead, as promised.

In the other, was a letter drawn up by his atty, signed by him, releasing me of any and all responsiblities.

And paper clipped to the release was a check, for $10,000. With a post-it:

"Thanks for all your help. Have lunch on me."

I called his office and asked for him. When he came on the line, I said, "I just wanted to thank you. And tell you that I think you're a mensch."

He laughed and said, "You're very welcome. You should know that the reason I did this was that I consider *you* a mensch."

I considered that a great compliment.

He asked me to give him a call the next time I was in New York, and we signed off.

******
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

AroundTheWorld

Be in the Moment
Speedway Pass
Jul 24, 2007
2,909
1,875
550
.
Great Story Russ.

I would much rather live my life that way then refusing to sit with my back to the door. If you treat people well - - what fulfilling relationships you will have. What a fulfilling life you will lead.

At the end of the day - that is what you will take with you.
 

LightHouse

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Aug 13, 2007
4,101
6,142
1,516
Northern VA
better than being a schmuck. heh.

I acctually read this post, laughed out loud, exited the forum, then continued laughing and came back in just to write this post. For some reason this was funny as anything to me.

Good story russ, good find as well. Some not knowing the meaning could mis-interpret that word although.
 
OP
OP
Russ H

Russ H

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
6,556
1,295
381
58
Napa Valley, CA
bump.

-Russ H.
 

SaraK

Contributor
Apr 25, 2008
230
62
43
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Thanks for the definition and the story Russ. For some reason I always thought mensch was a negative term. Glad I know better now!
 

randallg99

Bronze Contributor
Aug 9, 2007
1,390
179
92
NJ
I acctually read this post, laughed out loud, exited the forum, then continued laughing and came back in just to write this post. For some reason this was funny as anything to me.

Good story russ, good find as well. Some not knowing the meaning could mis-interpret that word although.
schmuck is a supposed to be a very derogatory term, lol.


Thanks for the definition and the story Russ. For some reason I always thought mensch was a negative term. Glad I know better now!
it's negative if the connotation is associated with being a pushover.... depends what context it's being used in.

example, he took extra time to spend with his kids, he's such a mensch. (good context).... he ended up doing the job himself because his employees didn't listen and he's too much of a mensch....

here's another yiddush word that I use a lot:

FARMISHT... basically means confused, or airheaded. In most cases, it really means "screwed up to the nth degree"

he talks in circles, he's all farmisht.
or he's really farmisht.
 
OP
OP
Russ H

Russ H

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
6,556
1,295
381
58
Napa Valley, CA
FARMISHT... basically means confused, or airheaded. In most cases, it really means "screwed up to the nth degree"

he talks in circles, he's all farmisht.
or he's really farmisht.
Wow, a new word for me. Always a good day when that happens! :tiphat:

Randall, I went to school at University of Michigan-- where the campus paper was called "Michigas" (a play on "mishegas".

I had to have it explained to me. :rolleyes:

But that was my intro to a lifelong love of words from other cultures used in the English language.

BTW, in looking up the correct spelling of "mishegas", I saw mensch spelled as "mentch".

Is one more correct, or are both?

-Russ H.
 

Bobo

Bronze Contributor
Mar 25, 2008
450
137
42
Russ, I think we are all pretty much agreed that you are one as well :)
 
OP
OP
Russ H

Russ H

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
6,556
1,295
381
58
Napa Valley, CA
Thanks, Bobo. :tiphat:

Hey wait . . did you mean I'm a mensch, or meshugana?

( I've been called both-- and happily answer to either one :) )

As long as I'm not a putz!

-Russ H.
 

randallg99

Bronze Contributor
Aug 9, 2007
1,390
179
92
NJ
Wow, a new word for me. Always a good day when that happens! :tiphat:

Randall, I went to school at University of Michigan-- where the campus paper was called "Michigas" (a play on "mishegas".

I had to have it explained to me. :rolleyes:

But that was my intro to a lifelong love of words from other cultures used in the English language.

BTW, in looking up the correct spelling of "mishegas", I saw mensch spelled as "mentch".

Is one more correct, or are both?

-Russ H.
even I learned something today. I never knew there was a difference btwn meshuge and mesheguner....
Yiddish Dictionary Online ייִדיש װערטערבוך ×Âַפֿן װעב

when it comes to spelling yiddish, you're asking the wrong guy- I have a hard enough time spelling english.

BUT, I can tell you one of my peeves is the butchering of English by pure bred americans! and to alls of you'se:

"cockamun!"

teachers don't spend enough time differentiating these words:

they're
their
there

two
to
too

here
hear
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

Last edited:

randallg99

Bronze Contributor
Aug 9, 2007
1,390
179
92
NJ
by the way, I can't find "cockamun" anywhere in the yiddish dictionary. I'll do some investigating and ask around.

but it basically means: go take a shit in the woods....

nice ring to it, huh?
 
OP
OP
Russ H

Russ H

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
6,556
1,295
381
58
Napa Valley, CA
kakn (to defacate)

in (in)

. . . that's where it ends. I can't find any references to "forest" that start w/ "m" (just wald and tayge)

Could it be a derivation of Kockamayme?

-Russ H.
 
OP
OP
Russ H

Russ H

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
6,556
1,295
381
58
Napa Valley, CA
other language favorites:

Had an English friend. Loved to use expressions from her locale. She'd say things like:

"Went out last night and got squiffy. Woke up this morning and my head was like a box of frogs"

(needs no translation!)

Or:

"Quit your wingeing!" (stop whining)

I love language . . . :)

-Russ H.
 

Bobo

Bronze Contributor
Mar 25, 2008
450
137
42
Russ - get me drunk sometime. I have a whole dictionary of words that I invented for situations where the available descriptive phrases didn't suit my needs. You've seen a few :)
 
OP
OP
Russ H

Russ H

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
6,556
1,295
381
58
Napa Valley, CA
Russ - get me drunk sometime. I have a whole dictionary of words that I invented for situations where the available descriptive phrases didn't suit my needs. You've seen a few :)
I do admire the ones I've seen you use thus far.

I'll see if I can bring some of that red stuff for this year's meetup (we seem to have a lot of it around here) :cheers:

-Russ H.
 

Rawr

Gold Contributor
Speedway Pass
Aug 12, 2007
1,819
1,694
454
south florida
Great story.


Here is the one I am trying to figure out.

last names like Johnson, Petereson, the son part is fairly obvious.

Now, how about Goldberg, Rozenberg - what is "berg"

and now Russian - Ivanon, Petrov, "ov" - meaning what?

does anyone know?
 
OP
OP
Russ H

Russ H

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
6,556
1,295
381
58
Napa Valley, CA
Great story.


Here is the one I am trying to figure out.

last names like Johnson, Petereson, the son part is fairly obvious.

Now, how about Goldberg, Rozenberg - what is "berg"

and now Russian - Ivanon, Petrov, "ov" - meaning what?

does anyone know?
Not all the answers for Goldberg, but a start:

German Surname Meanings & Origins - Last Names From Germany - Top 50 German Surnames

"ov" is the Russian equivalent of "son" (Petrov = Peterson):

Russian Russian Names Find Out Where Some Slavic Names Come From!

-Russ H.
 

Rawr

Gold Contributor
Speedway Pass
Aug 12, 2007
1,819
1,694
454
south florida
OP
OP
Russ H

Russ H

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
6,556
1,295
381
58
Napa Valley, CA
Rawr:

You are Russian, so I would always assume that you know more about this than I will ever know.

In fact, I've learned more today about Patronymics and the similarities of "ov", "off", "ovich", "ovina" than ever!

Here's some more info. Not sure if it helps:

Patronymic

The patronymic of a person is based on the first name of his or her father and is written in all documents. If it is mentioned, it always follows the first name. A suffix (meaning either "son of" or "daughter of") is added to the father's given name—in modern times, males use -ович -ovich, while females use -овна -ovna. If the suffix is being appended to a name ending in й (y) or a soft consonant, the initial o becomes a ye (-евич -yevich and -евна -yevna). There are also a few exceptions to this pattern; for example, the son of Ilya is always Ilyich, not Ilyevich.

Historically, the -ovich (-ovna) form was reserved for the Russian aristocracy, while commoners had to use -in, -yn, -ov, -ev, etc. (for a son; e.g., Boris Alekseev, Dmitri Kuzmin) and -eva, -ova, -ina, etc. (for a daughter; e.g., Sofiya Alekseeva, Anastasiya Kuzmina). Over time, the -ovich (-ovna) form spread to commoners favored by the tsar, high-ranking bureaucrats, and during the 19th century, to all segments of Russian society.

As an example, the patronymic name of Soviet leader Никита Сергеевич Хрущёв (Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev) indicates that his father was named Сергей (Sergey). Similarly, the patronymic name of Светлана Иосифовна Сталина (Svetlana Iosifovna Stalina) indicates that her father was named Иосиф (Iosif) (in this case, Iosif (Joseph) Stalin).

When translating Russian-style names into English, it is important to remember that the patronymic is not equivalent to an English middle name, and follows different abbreviation conventions. The patronymic can be omitted (e.g. Vladimir Putin or V. Putin); both the first name and the patronymic can be written out in full (Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin); or both the first name and the patronymic can be abbreviated (V. V. Putin). However, writing out the first name and abbreviating the patronymic (e.g. Vladimir V. Putin), although something that one occasionally encounters in translations, is stylistically incorrect.[1]

In Ukraine the female patronymic ends with -ivna. The male version is the same as in Russian.

Family name (surname)

Family names, like Путин (Putin), Ельцин (Yel'tsin) or Горбачёв (Gorbachyov), generally function in the same manner that English family names do. They are generally inherited from one's parents, although (as with English names) women may adopt the surname of their husband or (very rarely) vice versa. Another uncommon practice is creating a double surname (for example, Mr. Ivanov and Ms. Petrova in their marriage may take family names Ivanov-Petrov and Ivanova-Petrova, respectively).

Grammatically, most Russian surnames are possessive adjectives; the surnames-nouns (Lebed' - literally "the swan") or attributive adjectives (Tolstoy - literally "thick" in an archaic form) are infrequent, they are mainly adopted from other languages. The surnames ended with -ov, -ev, -in are short forms of possessive adjectives, the ones ended with -sky are full forms.

The ending -enko is of Ukrainian origin, and used in both genders. Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko is an example.

As all Russian adjectives, they have different forms depending on gender—for example, the wife of Борис Ельцин (Boris Yel'tsin) is Наина Ельцина (Naina Yel'tsina). Note that this change of grammatical gender is a characteristic of Slavic languages, and is not considered to be changing the name received from a woman's father or husband (compare the equivalent rule in Czech or Polish). The correct transliteration of such feminine names in English is debated: sometimes women's names are given in their original form, sometimes in the masculine form (technically incorrect, but more widely recognized).

Russian surnames usually end with -ov (-ova for female); -ev (-eva); -in (-ina). Ukrainian surnames generally end with -enko, -ko, -uk, and -ych (these endings do not change based on gender). The ending -skiy or -sky (-skaya) is common in both Russia and Ukraine.

The majority of Russian surnames are produced from personal names (Sergeyev — Sergey's son; Vasilyev — Vasiliy's son etc.). Many surnames originate from names of animals and birds (Lebedev — Swan's Son; Korovin — Cow's Son etc.) which have long ago been used as additional personal names or nicknames. Many other surnames have their origin in people's professions and crafts (Kuznetsov — Smith's son). In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries -off has been commonly used in place of -ov when spelling Russian surnames in foreign languages (e.g., the Smirnoff brand).
Source:

Names in the Russian Empire, Soviet Union and CIS countries - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

-Russ H.
 

Rawr

Gold Contributor
Speedway Pass
Aug 12, 2007
1,819
1,694
454
south florida
Ok here is what would make sense - the "ov" is not son per se, it is more of a possession type deal.

where John-son obviously means son, -ev would imply ownership and -ov could be labeled under it as well. It could mean being a member of a clan (family) and thus they have the possession of your name so to speak.

I will add that Ukrainian is a lot lazier language comparing to Russian, in a lot of instances what you say is the way you feel or sound you'd make, so it is "lazy" phonetically and complexity wise. Since everything started from Slavs (Ukraine area) it would make sense that this type of language would affect the origins of names.
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

Cat Man Du

Contributor
Jul 30, 2007
604
51
32
Back to topic.

Since I’m the one who first used this word in the “ Mentor Thread” .

I’ll tell you how I first heard this word and what it meant to me.

Back in my gym days, I met one of our company's lawyers..... He was the typical type that you expect him to be.......................He looked just like a company attorney would.

He was, also, one of brightest men I have known................and yes he was Jewish.

While he was a wiz in business.........................He was a strike-out with the ladies.

We use to go out together after work and socialize ................. He would get me to introduce him to the girls and help him land a date.

As I say he was Jewish................and one night he told me that “ I was a mensch “ Well I thought that this was a derogatory term and called him on it.

He explained the meaning...............same as stated previously.

I asked him why he thought that this applied to me.

He said that while I looked like I could be the beach bully.....................

I didn’t have the kill-shot in me.

Even though I could handle myself..................... I would never keep the upper-hand because I could not bring myself to push the dagger in for the kill.

I wonder ............................ I wonder...............
 
OP
OP
Russ H

Russ H

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
6,556
1,295
381
58
Napa Valley, CA
He explained the meaning...............same as stated previously.

I asked him why he thought that this applied to me.

He said that while I looked like I could be the beach bully.....................

I didn’t have the kill-shot in me.

Even though I could handle myself..................... I would never keep the upper-hand because I could not bring myself to push the dagger in for the kill.

I wonder ............................ I wonder...............
Which definition? The good one, or the "pushover" one?

Not sure how the "good" definition connotes weakness (as your explanation above). It sure hasn't from the folks who have called me this-- they were businesspeople telling me I was a stand-up guy.

(FYI, this thread was started back in Oct 2007. I just bumped it up when it came up in the Mentor thread) :)

-Russ H.
 

Cat Man Du

Contributor
Jul 30, 2007
604
51
32
Which definition? The good one, or the "pushover" one?

Not sure how the "good" definition connotes weakness (as your explanation above). It sure hasn't from the folks who have called me this-- they were businesspeople telling me I was a stand-up guy.

(FYI, this thread was started back in Oct 2007. I just bumped it up when it came up in the Mentor thread) :)

-Russ H.
The good one.

Not being able to use the KILL-SHOT doesn't mean you're weak...........It just means
that you don't have that kind of personality.

He did...................I watched him in meetings................. He could rip your guts out.....verbally.

More damage than I could ever do physically.

He was the kind of guy that would stomp your head in ...while you were lying unconscious.

I missed that this was your older thread, Thanks, RUSS.
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Sponsored Offers

  • Sticky
MARKETPLACE You Are One Call Away From Living Your Dream Life - LightHouse’s Accountability Program ⚡
Here is the talk I gave at the 2020 Fastlane Summit on Mastering your Mind In this video you...
  • Sticky
MARKETPLACE Lex DeVille's - Advanced Freelance Udemy Courses!
LATE BIRTHDAY! I'm behind on everything this month, including getting promos out. Sorry, my bad...


Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe to become an INSIDER.

Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Monthly conference calls with doers
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Top Bottom
AdBlock Detected - Please Disable

Yes, ads can be annoying. But please...

...to support the Unscripted/Fastlane mission (and to respect the immense amount of time needed to manage this forum) please DISABLE your ad-block. Thank you.

I've Disabled AdBlock