[Completely OT] Capeesh


I'm Italian, and today I learned that you Americans (and possibly you British) people sometime do use the word "capeesh?" for "did you understand?". Since it comes from the Italian "capisci" [Ka'peeshee] that means the very same thing, I'd like to know how frequently do you use such word, or if you don't use it at all.

For the curious, I found it here.

-- Antonio


In my opinion, most Americans learned of the word watching mafia movies like the Godfather. As for how often it's used... I live in Texas and it isn't uncommon to hear it but it's not part of the everyday vocabulary. Now on the east coast (New York, New Jersey, etc.) it is probably fairly common.




In the midwest (Kentucky), it's not something you hear every day, but most folks would understand what it means if they heard it, I think.


I use it fairly often. As you may know, the English language frequently adopts words and expressions from other languages, more so than any other language does. Always has; someday we will probably be using Klingon expressions...


buy' ngop
Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam


Widely used in the past. I don't think it's used much today.

See Wiktionary (link)


Like Capeesh, another commonly used word that sounds completely foreign to everyday spoken English is "Gesundheit", the German response to someone that just sneezed. It means something like "may God grant you health". I know it surprised some some German friends when they heard one of us Yanks say it to them :-). Same response with "Kindergarten" (German for childrens school).

Ciao Antionio (as Walter B. would say :-)

p.s. Here is a free online text-to-speech synthesizer, if you want to hear (an attempt at) how a word is pronounced: http://cepstral.com/demos/ Try it using difference "voices" (gender and accents). I tried Antonio's "capisci" using Itailian. Note: I haven't tried Bill's Klingon sentence above yet ;-)

Edited: 11 Nov 2009, 2:44 p.m.


Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam

Not for me, I hope! (Too much unfinished hobby work).


"Capeesh?" is clearly a recognized word used in spoken American English, and is included in at least some standard dictionaries. It is probably most commonly used in urban areas in the northeastern US, which have the largest Italian-American communities. I agree with Wictionary that it often (though not always) has threatening overtones.

I would not expect the word to be widely used or recognized in British English, Australian English, Indian English, etc. But I could be wrong; sometimes American movies and TV shows (which definitely use this word) are powerful vectors of American English (for better or worse).


Another intruder from German to (American?) English is "kaput". In German, "kaputt" means broken.


American English includes many colorful words of German origin, which often became known in the US via Yiddish. Kaput may be one of these.

Other examples include words like dreck, gelt, klutz, kvetch, lox, mensch, nosh, shtick, and shpiel.

Edited: 11 Nov 2009, 7:49 p.m.


Good one Marcus! I hear it all the time: "Das ist kaput!!" from co-workers telling me my software quit again. Then when I find the bug, you can hear me shouting at the screen: "Schweinehund!" (Pig Dog!).

(Joking, but I do love saying them :-)


On Topic

Mensch!!! Meine 15c ist kaput! Nach zwanzig jahren!!!

Ist das richtig? Capeesh?


American English is full of gems. Here's one of my favorites: I'd rather have a free bottle in front of me than a pre-frontal lobotomy.


Not bad! Except that the 15c is not a girl. ;)

The word 'kaput' itself is kaput, at least for a German reader: We write it with a double 't': "kaputt".

We use the word sometimes for ourselves: "Mann, bin ich kaputt!" is the proper phrase after a marathon run.


"Gesundheit"...It means something like "may God grant you health".

Thankfully, there's no god in "Gesundheit". It just translates as "health".

I'm not sure that American English is the language with the most adopted words. German is strong in that regard, too. Plus, they make their own new "English" words, that sound English but really are not: "Handy" for cell phone.

I once read a story from an American who visited a gynecologist in Italy. Sitting in the waiting room, she discovered some sign in English with many mistakes in it. When she kindly tried to point out the mistakes to the physician, he replied: "You may be expert for American English, I'm expert for Italian English!"

Edited: 13 Nov 2009, 8:03 a.m.

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