The Yiddish Roots of “Glitch”

Undisputed King of Trainers, Joshua Evan, 2018
Undisputed King of Trainers, Joshua Evan, 2018

Language and its evolution is a fascinating topic, and who’d have thought the word we commonly use to describe a temporary malfunction or fault, glitch, is of Yiddish origins. From Air & Space:

Glitch is derived from glitsh, Yiddish for slippery place, and from glitshn, meaning to slide, or glide. Glitch was in use in the 1940s by radio announcers to indicate an on-air mistake. By the 1950s, the term had migrated to television, where engineers used glitch to refer to technical problems.

In the 1963 book Into Orbit book by the Mercury Seven, John Glenn mused about the word, which he evidently hadn’t used before joining the space program. “Another term we adopted to describe some of our problems was ‘glitch.’ Literally, a glitch is a spike or change in voltage in an electrical circuit….”

Air & Space