The word bupkis (more properly bobkes, באבקעס) means “nonsense” or “nothing.”

How did this word develop? Well bob (באב) is Yiddish for “bean.” Its diminutive form (bobkes) also came to refer to goat fecal pellets, which look like little black beans.

Thus, referring to a claim or a notion as bupkis is similar to calling it “full of baloney.”

In Yiddish, it is common to refer to peddling untruths as farkoyfen bobkes, “selling bobkes.”

It can also mean “nothing at all.” So when asked how much a merchant made on a deal gone sour, he may answer that his profits were bupkis, “nothing at all.”

Here’s a funny anecdote: In the Torah, we read how Jacob purchased the rights associated with being the firstborn son from his brother, Esau, in exchange for a pot of beans. So if you’d have asked Jacob how much he paid for the privileges and he answered “bupkis,” he would not have been wrong.

But if someone asks you what you plan to eat on Passover, when many typical foods (chametz) are forbidden by Jewish law, make sure not to answer bupkis, since Ashkenazim (which includes virtually all native Yiddish speakers) avoid eating beans (and other dishes classed as kitniyot) on Passover due to their similarity to chametz.