Schnorrer (שנאָרער; also spelled shnorrer) is a Yiddish term meaning "beggar" or "sponger". The word Schnorrer also occurs in German to describe a person, who frequently asks for little things like cigarettes or little sums of money, without offering a return, and has thus come to mean freeloader. The English usage of the word denotes a sly chiseller who will get money out of another any way he can, often through an air of entitlement. A schnorrer is distinguished from an ordinary beggar by dint of his boundless chutzpah. The term does not apply to begging or being homeless, but rather a habit of getting things (food, tools) rather than money by politely wanting to borrow them.
The term, which is used in a pejorative or ironic sense, can also be used as a backhanded compliment to someone's perseverance, cleverness, or thrift. For instance, Azriel Hildesheimer, known for his travels around Europe to spread his rabbinical wisdom to the poor, and for his refusal to accept payment for his services, was sometimes referred to as the "international schnorrer" for his reliance on the local community to house and feed him wherever he went. Israel Zangwill best described a schnorrer as a beggar who would chide a donor for not giving enough.
Schnorrers in film and literature
- Israel Zangwill: The King of Schnorrers (1894 novel)
- Groucho Marx, in his movies, often assumed the role of a schnorrer. The word is used in the song "Hooray for Captain Spaulding" in the Marx Brothers' musical Animal Crackers: "Hooray for Captain Spaulding/The African explorer/Did someone call me schnorrer?/Hooray, hooray, hooray!"
- Dr. Zoidberg in Futurama is a Yiddish-accented humanoid lobster schnorrer.
- The comedian Jackie Mason often pokes fun at the stereotype of Jews as schnorrers.
- The character of Father Phil Intintola on The Sopranos, as played by Paul Schulze, self-deprecatingly refers to himself as a schnorrer, especially in regard to his always showing up when Carmela is cooking.
- Northern Exposure Season 5, Episode "Northern Hospitality" 5-16(79) 1993-94 - Dr Joel Fleishman is perceived as a schnorrer because of his failure to reciprocate dinner invitations.
- ↑ "JewishEncyclopedia.com - SCHNORRER:". www.jewishencyclopedia.com. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?letter=S&artid=344. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
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