Etymology
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schmaltz (n.)

"banal or excessive sentimentalism," 1935, from Yiddish shmalts, literally "melted fat," from Middle High German smalz, from Old High German smalz "animal fat," related to smelzan "to melt" (see smelt (v.)). Modern German Schmalz "fat, grease" has the same figurative meaning.

Hot musicians look down on sweet bands, which faithfully follow the composer's arrangements. They condemn the monotony of such music, repeated by thousands of bands on dance and radio programs. Being themselves improvisers, they feel superior to those musicians who follow unrebelliously the notes before them and their conductor's wand. Schmaltz (cf. the German schmalz, meaning grease) is derogatory term used to straight jazz. [E.J. Nichols and W.L. Werner, "Hot Jazz Jargon," in Vanity Fair, November 1935]

Also in Jewish-American cookery, in schmaltz herring (by 1914).

The boss herring, at least for Yiddish speakers and their descendants, is the schmaltz herring, possibly because of its name. There is no schmaltz in schmaltz herring, just plenty of fish fat. [Michael Wex, "Rhapsody in Schmaltz," 2016]

updated on January 30, 2022

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Definitions of schmaltz from WordNet

schmaltz (n.)
(Yiddish) excessive sentimentality in art or music;
Synonyms: shmaltz / schmalz
From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.