Schlep (or shlep) is Yiddish for “drag” or “pull,” and functions as a noun or verb.

Schlep: To Tote

When a Jewish family prepares for a flight and their Yiddishe mama packs them extra tuna sandwiches—since there is no kosher food available in the airport, and she cannot picture her precious children going hungry—it would be accurate to say that they are schlepping along tons of extra baggage. In this case, the use is somewhat figurative, since they need not physically drag the tuna sandwiches.

Schlep: To Drag

Now suppose the studious yeshivah student of a son decided to pack along his spare set of Talmud (20 oversized volumes). The luggage would become so heavy that there would be choice but to schlep it on the ground.

Schlep: To Be a Burden

Once this family realizes that they have so much luggage with them, the entire trip has become more of a burden than a boon. They can then say that the entire trip was just one big schlep.

Oisgeshlept: Drawn Out

As the vacation continues, and they miss their regular routines back home, the ordeal begins to feel oisgeshlept, “drawn out.” If it gets so bad that it begins to remind them of a winter cold that never ends, they may call it an “oisgeshlepte krank,” an illness that drags on and on.

Schlepn Beim Tzung: Tugging by the Tongue

As the family continues to bicker about their non-fun vacation (except of course for the abovementioned scholar, whose nose is buried in his Talmud and refuses to get schlepped into the brouhaha), some family members begin to campaign for going home early, telling their parents, “You told us we could leave early if we don’t enjoy it. “Schlep unz nisht beim tzung (don’t tug us by our tongues),” say the exasperated parents. “Don’t try to use our words to force us into anything.”

People as Schleppers

As the family sits and bemoans their fate, they forget to take care of their appearances, and are soon a disheveled and bedraggled group. An observer may remark that they look like a bunch of “shleppers,” which literally means “draggers,” but refers to anyone who is not quite making it, socially, financially or appearance-wise. The closest English equivalent to schlepper would probably be “loser.”

Nochshleppers and Mitshleppers: Tagalongs

Good news! Our family finally schlepps back home (schlepping their luggage). Determined not to transgress the Torah guidelines for lashon hara (slander), they keep mum about their experiences. People talk about the wonderful destination, and soon groupies and copycats (mitshleppers and nochshleppers) start making the trip to the same destination.

I hope that answer didn’t schlep on too long, but once I start writing, I get schlepped into it…