Better Than English: Untranslatable Words defines the Yiddish word farpotshket as “Something that is all fouled up, especially as the result of attempts to fix it–repeatedly making something worse while trying to fix it.” It is pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable.

This term rather well described me when I took wood shop in 7th and 8th grade. A minor wobble in one leg of a project would eventually become three legs that could not bear the weight of the creation.

There was a 2005 National Public Radio story The New Words and Ideas We Need sings praises of the word: “The art of trying to fix something only to make it far worse is described by the Yiddish word farpotshket. Can you think of a word that sounds more complicated, muddled and frustrated than farpotshket? It’s like a Frankenstein of obscenity, created from different parts of a dozen swears. The next time you reach to brush a piece of lint off your date’s shirt, then spill the bottle of wine on their pants, try screaming, ‘Farpotshket!’ It’s far more satisfying than a hundred curse words.”

Both the Urban Dictionary and definithing describe the word farpotshket as Completely ruined as a result of attempts to fix a minor imperfection. “Don’t try to fix that tiny smudge! You will make the entire painting farpotshket.”

The painting reference, of course, reminds me of that famous story of Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) in the Sanctuary of Mercy church in Borja, Spain. It was an unremarkable painting, but the attempt to restore the fresco by Cecilia Giménez, an untrained elderly amateur, in 2012, made it international news. Oddly enough, the botched repair has made the site a major tourist attraction.

When do YOU experience your farpotshket moments? Do you get it right the first time, or do you settle for “that’s good enough”?

ABC Wednesday – Round 20

19 Responses to “F is for farpotshket (ABC W)”

  • Too many to mention! An example would be my attempt to rid our lawn of weeds and clover. I over did it with the weedkiller so that was an overall green effect now has many bald patches.

  • fillyjonk says:

    I have a Perfectionist Nature, so more than I like to admit I have cacked things up by trying to make them better.

  • leslie says:

    Oh my goodness – what a word. If I can remember it, I’ll try to use it next time I f*** something up.

    farpotshket farpotshket farpotshket

  • What a lovely and more so, informative, post Roger. I’dd never heard of that word before and thinking about it, I can’t think of a word in my own language we use for that situation… If it will come ot my mind, I will let you know 😉

  • jesh StG says:

    Oh, I would love to scream that “farpotshket!” when a painting bums:):) But then I love languages…
    By the way my son also took woodshop in High school but never did anything with it after that:)

  • ellen b. says:

    The first thing I thought of reading this post is how years ago I’d keep trying to fix my bangs when cutting them myself. Talk about farpotshket!

  • Rajesh says:

    Very interesting word. New to me.

  • Hildred says:

    Farpotshket – reminds me of the wartime expression SNAFU….

  • Indrani says:

    We do need a word for that…Something that is all fouled up, especially as the result of attempts to fix it–repeatedly making something worse while trying to fix it…. I have faced it sometimes. Learned a new word! 🙂 Happy ABCW!

  • I’ve always considered mistakes as an opportunity for creativity and innovation. Some of my best projects have evolved from a mistake. I also consider some mistakes to add character to a piece. However, I have had my share of farpotshket pieces, where there’s nothing left but to toss them out and start over again. Anyhow, I like the word, and it’s sound makes me smile. Blessings, my friend!

  • FAB word Roger I like and have written it down in my special book of
    obscure words.
    When I worked in stockbroking we had an account the partners of the
    practice had created for
    it was called (Pardon the language) ‘The balls upaccount’;
    It was used when somebody made a loss on a deal and even stranger made a profit
    and had nowhere to credit it to.
    Needless to say the account always ran with a debit balance,
    Whenever we did an audit of all the clients account the BUA would be written off then started again in preparation of the B…s Up of which there were many!
    The main perpertrators were mainly the partners so they didn’t bother as they considered the wealth of the company was theirs,
    Nobody told the clients… Ahem !
    Best regards,
    ABCW team.

  • ann says:

    I’ve done that plenty and it’s hard for me to settle for incomplete and inadequate in my minds eye.

  • Gattina says:

    I am farpotshketing right now, I started to paintings with my fingers without brush ! lol

  • Wonderful post and so informative ~ great word and new to me ~ and yes I have experienced those times ~ I think it part of the ‘human condition’ ~ got to know when ‘quite’ and move on ~ thanks ~

    Wishing you a happy day ~ ^_^

  • Klara S says:

    As always interesting post. So much information. And very hard word to remember…

  • zongrik says:

    my life is a farpotsche moment

  • What an informative post! I was unaware of so much of things:)

  • I’m one of those “good enough” people. If I can remember, I might try saying farposhket instead of the usual ef.

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