Tag Archives: Yiddish

Cheesy and Corny

These two adjectives are used as pejoratives: cheesy meaning something cheap or cheaply made, and corny meaning trite or schmaltzy. (Schmaltz is chicken fat in Yiddish.  Go figure.)

Apparently, cheesy originated in the mid-19th century and alluded to the smell of overripe cheese. Perhaps that cheese was sold at a bargain rate, hence the adjective.

Corny arose when mail-order seed catalogs appeared in the early 1900s, and to fill out the spaces, seed companies would scatter the pages with cartoons and jokes. I imagine these were not of the highest level of sophistication, and the adjective corny became attached to them and their ilk.


Filed under All things having to do with the English language