By Eddy Portnoy

Shlemiel/Shlimazl (n. שלומיאל שלימזל, from Yiddish). While both of these words can be used independently, they are often defined in tandem. A shlemiel is a clumsy, incompetent person, someone who seizes failure with both hands. A Shlimazl is a hapless type, a person permanently behind the eight ball, who attracts bad luck like a magnet. For the sake of clarity and expediency, they are often defined together: a shlemiel is a person who spills a bowl of soup on someone; a shlimazl is the person on whom the soup is spilled. Both of these words are used in English, and most commonly heard in the theme song to the 1970s television show, Laverne and Shirley, in which they appear to have been placed as nonsense words, although every Jew who heard the song knew what they were referring to.