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Chutzpah - Do you see it?

Popularity 5Viewed 983 times 2015-4-19 16:21 |Personal category:Quote Me|System category:Life| Chutzpah



This is a word I find very interesting. It is quite commonly practised all over the world, but particularly more so in the Western countries that I have lived in. From young immature teenagers to old 'mature' politicians, they constantly remind us of it in one form or another. Of course, we are all a bit desensitized through its overuse. But if we pause to think about many things people say, in calm reflection, we realize this is more prevalent that we believed it to be. I believe it a very useful word to understand. It captures so much meaning in one short word. I believe we will see more of it in human affairs as the days go by.

I found the following definitions for it from some sources on the Internet. Note that the highlighting of certain portions by italics, bold and underline is mine.

Wikipedia:

Chutzpah (/ˈhʊtspə/ or /ˈxʊtspə/[1][2]) is the quality of audacity, for good or for bad. The Yiddish word derives from the Hebrew word ḥutspâ (חֻצְפָּה), meaning "insolence", "cheek" or "audacity". The modern English usage of the word has taken on a broader meaning, having been popularized through vernacular use in film, literature, and television. The word is sometimes interpreted—particularly in business parlance—as meaning the amount of courage, mettle or ardor that an individual has.[citation needed] However in more traditional usage, chutzpah has a negative connotation.

In Hebrew, chutzpah is used indignantly, to describe someone who has overstepped the boundaries of accepted behavior. In traditional usage, the word expresses a strong sense of disapproval, condemnation and outrage.


Free Merriam Webster Dictionary:

Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish defines chutzpah as "gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible 'guts', presumption plus arrogance such as no other word and no other language can do justice to". In this sense, chutzpah expresses both strong disapproval and condemnation. In the same work, Rosten also defined the term as "that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan". 

Chutzpah amounts to a total denial of personal responsibility, that renders others speechless and incredulous ... one cannot quite believe that another person totally lacks common human traits like remorse, regret, guilt, sympathy and insight. The implication is at least some degree of psychopathy in the subject, as well as the awestruck amazement of the observer at the display.

-  personal confidence or courage that allows someone to do or say things that may seem shocking to others

Synonyms: audaciousness, audacity, brashness, brass, brassiness, brazenness, cheek, cheekiness, effrontery (also chutzpa or hutzpah or hutzpa), crust, face, gall, nerve, nerviness, pertness, presumption, presumptuousness, sauce, sauciness, temerity.

Note that according to Wikipedia  'In traditional usage, the word expresses a strong sense of disapproval, condemnation and outrage.' However, there is also a certain degree of actual admiration for such behaviour. It is even encouraged in certain circumstances. In modern usage and in actual culture, Chutzpah has transitioned into something 'admirable' in many situations, like 'greed'.

That brings to mind two questions:

1) Is 'Chutzpah' acceptable on occasions?

If you believe Chutzpah is indeed acceptable, 

2) Do you think we alway appreciate or judge Chutzpah in others fairly as being acceptable or not?

I don't think Chutzpah in the traditional sense should ever be acceptable, but Chutzpah in some flavours of its modern meaning may be acceptable under certain circumstances.

I observe that chutzpah that suits one's motives or interests is viewed as acceptable. It is encouraged in people who display it towards someone who has a different point of view or different interest. Global politics is a great arena to see chutzpah on display and in practice.

What do you think? 
Can you share examples of where you think Chutzpah is being displayed?

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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