Jewish Autocorrect Fails: An Inventory

Ahhh, technology! Smartphones have inarguably streamlined and enhanced our communications — but so, too, have they created lots of opportunities for disastrous and hilarious miscommunications. Who among us hasn’t responded to a funny text with “gag” instead of “haha”? And who ever means to write “ducking”?

Yes, autocorrect provides plenty of frustration — but just as many gems. Case in point: My cousin once invited me to meet his “old wombats.” He meant “roommates,” but I’ve saved a screencap of that conversation for years just for the laughs.

For Members of the Tribe, autocorrect presents a special challenge: typing Hebrew and Yiddish phrases. Smart as our smartphones may be, they’ve not yet mastered the art of multiculturalism. While my iPhone can manage “Shabbat shalom,” just about everything else in the Jewish realm is beyond its capabilities.

neil patrick harris

When I type: Mazal tov (“congratulations”)

My phone autocorrects to: Nasal tic

This is probably my most frequently typed Jewish term (I’ve got lots of friends who are gettin’ hitched and poppin’ out babies, I guess), yet for some reason, my phone has yet to catch onto it — and seems to autocorrect it to something different every time. This version happens to be my favorite, if only because I recently came thiiiiisclose to posting, “She’s beautiful. Nasal tic!” on a friend’s Instagram photo of her newborn daughter.

bewitched nose

When I type: Rosh Hashanah

My phone autocorrects to: Roush has Hannah

One of the holiest days of the Jewish year, and my iPhone has the nerve to make it sound like some sort of hostage situation. (To be fair, I guess some people do feel that way about going to services on Rosh Hashanah…)

hannah horvath

When I type: Yasher koach (“well done”)

My phone autocorrects to: Washer coach

Hey, you did a great job! Now wash my old-timey car, wouldja?


When I type: Mishpocha (“family”)

My phone autocorrects to: Mishap has

This feels appropriate, given that family gatherings are, in my experience, often rife with mishaps. Here’s a great and terrible example: On Thanksgiving a few years ago, one of my aunts took my other aunt’s two big dogs for a walk… and fell and broke her pelvis. That was the year we ate pie in the E.R. Mishpoca mishaps indeed!


When I type: Nachas (“pride”)

My phone autocorrects to: Nachos

In defense of my iPhone, this is an understandable autocorrect, and also, I wish I had more excuses to text about nachos. In fact, eating more nachos would bring me much nachas. New goal?


When I type: Matzah ball

My phone autocorrects to: May she ball

I’m pretty surprised, actually, that my phone doesn’t know “matzah.” After all, matzah ball soup, while still a darling of the Jewish people, has become just about as widely beloved as bagels and lox. Still, “may she ball” sounds like a kind of awesome blessing, the “Never the less, she persisted” of benedictions. Go forth and ball, ladies.

wonder woman

When I type: Schmutz (“dirt”)

My phone autocorrects to: Schnitzel

Autocorrecting one Jewish word into another? I can’t even be mad about this one — except that now I’m hungry. (I kindly request no schmutz on my schnitzel, though.)


 When I type: Moshiach (“messiah”)

My phone autocorrects it to: Mod his home

This has me imagining that the eventual messiah will reside in a very hip and minimally decorated Frank Lloyd Wright mansion.

home living room 

When I type: Boker tov (“Good morning”)

My phone autocorrects to: biker too

Can’t forget about those bikers. Good morning to Harley Davidson and Hell’s Angels and all the rest of you badasses, as well!

dog biker

When I type: Refuah sh’leima (“Get well soon”)

My phone autocorrects to: Refuse Sharon’s

Well, that’s kind of rude. Sharon is just trying to send you her well-wishes.

sharon osbourne

When I type: Mensch (“good person”)

My phone autocorrects it to: Men’s hair

Fear not, toupeed men of the world! You need not have naturally flowing locks in order to be one of the good guys.

men's hair

 When I type: Shonde (“shame”)

My phone autocorrects to: Standard

I suppose this autocorrect is appropriate these days, when every other headline seems to be a shonde. You could even say it’s become… standard.


Of course, there’s a reverse to this concept, too: when you so frequently text about Jewish concepts that your smartphone becomes smart enough to autocorrect to the Jewy stuff (even when you don’t want it to). A few years ago, a friend of mine — now a rabbi — started using a hashtag of her own making — #tragicallyjewish — that has since caught on. Truly, does anything fit into that category better than an experience like this one?

L’hitraot (see you soon), fellow Jewesses — or as my phone would try to make me say instead, “Hit raptors!”



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