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July 5, 2022

Schlep / verb / shlep

We've used the word "schlep" in English as both a transitive and intransitive verb since the early 1900s. When used in its transitive sense, "schlep" means to slowly "haul or carry." In its intransitive form, we use "schlep" to describe a person walking away in an "embarrassed" or "sheepish" manner. For example, someone who is embarrassed or feeling awkward in social situations is likely to walk away slowly with their head down. We call this behavior "schlepping." In this intransitive sense, awkwardness and carelessness apply along with slow movements.

In a Sentence

The girl put her head down and "schlepped" away when she found out she didn't make the cheerleading squad.

I'm excited about going on the trip, but not excited that I still have to "schlep" five pieces of luggage through this gigantic airport!

The nervous dancer "schlepped" away from the stage when the audience began to hiss and boo at their performance.


"Schlep" first entered language in its transitive sense meaning to "haul or to carry," in the early 19th century around 1911. However, we started using the word intransitively to describe a person walking away in a "careless" or tedious manner much later. Etymologists believe the word "schlep" has both German and Yiddish origins.


Carry, Drag


Hold, Stop


  1. R T Neary

    Ver y common among Jewish American in the 1960s. One such:
    Larry Glick , popular Boston late-nite talk host.

  2. Esther Gordon

    the word schelp is a yiddish expression (ashkenazi).

  3. armando sardon

    Very interesting word and its use! Being a Spanish-speaking person, I find no equivalent for this word at the moment. I will try it in my English when the opportunity comes along.

  4. Sophia

    You used the definition of Schlep correctly, but it is an Yiddish word being used English world where a lot of Jews reside, same as kvetch, schemata, chutzpah schlemiel and so on.

  5. Isaura



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