Do you know these 10 Amish terms?

I’ll be posting some photos and more from my PA Amish trip when I can get back to a computer (this is another late night flashlight Kindle post, the easiest kind when you’re staying in an Amish home)…For now I thought a quiz would be fun. Do you know what these 10 Amish-related terms mean? Pretty much all of them have come up on this visit, which might give some clues as to what we’ve been up to 🙂

1. Mountain pies

2. Council service

3. Galluses

4. White-topper

5. Can Jam

6. Gemeinde brief

7. In the lot

8. Grossfeelich

9. Naphtha

10. Special friend

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    74 Comments

    1. Know some terms

      Mountain pies: 2 slices of bread with pie filling or variety of meats and cheese between,placed in a “mountain pie” maker (cast iron 2 part on long handle) and place in open fire to cook.

      White Topper: one of “our” Amish in Big Valley, referring to the color of their buggy top; also know as the Nebraka Amish.

      Naptha: a brand name of old fashion soap

      In the Lot: persons chosen for a position in the church that will be chose by “lot”.

      Grossfeelich: Not sure but guessing “good feeling”.

      Eric, you still have open invitation to spend a free night with us! And we have wifii too!!!

      1. Sadie's

        Grossfeilich

        This means a proud feeing, not jutgoodone. It carries a negative connotation.

      2. Denise VanWoerkom

        Another term

        How about – “ferhoodled” ?

        1. The meaning of "verhoodled"

          It was quite astonishing to me, to hear that rare word (verhoodled). I know it from my youth. “Hoodln” means to do a work too fast without taking care and without diligence. The result is “verhoodled”, that means the work went wrong because of to much speed. The origin of the word is a southgerman dialect. But maybe the word has changed its meaning in America?

          1. Hans I’ve thought this to mean mixed up or messed up, though don’t know how accurate that is or how/how much it is really used (I don’t really know any PA German, but you sometimes see it as a “pop” PA German word used in say some tourist guides): http://www.amazon.com/Ferhoodled-English-Collection-Expression-Pennsylvania/dp/B0026H68BU

            But if that is right it sounds similar to what you are saying.

          2. Don Curtis

            verhuddelt

            I asked Mark about this word. He said that the way he’s heard it used is as “mixed up.” As in: “Sell coll ist ganz verhuddelt.”
            “That guy is totally mixed-up.” Mark said that another word that is used is “ver-rupt”. That means more like “crazy or wacky.”

            1. J.Knapp

              ver-rupt – The German is verrückt … meaning all mixed up/confusing. I know this because of a the Ravensburger game: Das verrückte Labyrinth.

              Also that is a very interesting comment about the ver- prefix!

              1. Elle

                verrückt = mad, crazy

                mixed up would be durcheinander
                and confused would be verwirrt

          3. Erwin Ledig

            verhoodled

            I live in Palatinat (Pfalz) in Germany and I can tell you, we still use this word in our dialect in the same sense as you described.

        2. Tana

          Confused

          It’s funny how so much of the Amish language and old sayings are the same sayings that my grandparents, who were not Amish, would use. I grew up saying things like “ferhoodled” aka: confused. I guess that goes to show that other than our style of dress and cars, we really are almost the same.

      3. Margot Hellerman

        Good soap!

        We grew up with Fels Naptha soap – not an Amish community but in a German neighborhood in Bay City, Michigan. We used Fels naptha for scrubbing stains in clothing etc when we ran out of the soap “Grandma Kraut” (who lives next door) made in her back yard in a big vat! I still have a bar of Fels Naptha somewhere….

      4. Grosfelich

        It means proud.
        Feeling prideful

    2. We just learned how to play Can Jam when we were at a graduation party near Middlefield, OH. You use two brand new outdoor trash cans and a Frisbee. You stand beside one trash can while your partner throws the Frisbee. If he gets it close to the trash can, you use one hand to jam it into the can for a point. I think. 🙂

      1. Oh, and PS galluses are suspenders.

      2. I did not play or see it this time but Can Jam is apparently getting popular, hadn’t heard of it before this trip…by what I heard there may be another way of scoring, a slot in the side of the can as well?

        1. You can buy a Can Jam set with a slot, but at the public high school graduation party I attended, they just used clean trash cans. This was in Broadview Heights OH. My nephew and his wife recently had an Amish work crew from Middlefield build a screen porch. They live in Brecksville, which is about an hour away. Maybe Can Jam is a Cleveland area thing?

    3. Hmmm… So while sitting around eating mountain pies you discussed how Jakie is too grossfeelich to wear galluses. John is sure that it will be mentioned in counsel service and that if Jakie doesn’t soon change his attitude he will ruin any chance of ever being in the lot. Not that being in the lot is to be desired although everyone knows that Simeon sure thinks he would up to the task. That Simeon sure is grossfeelich too. Sammy’s special friend saw in the Gemeinde Brief that there will be names taken for the lot soon in Simeon’s district so we shall see what happens.
      As for Can Jam, Naptha, and White Topper, I’m clueless…

      1. Well done Rachel…loved the story form of your answer 🙂

    4. Galen

      First, happy belated birthday Erik!

      Second: you need the Kindle case with the built in light.

      I hope you had a nice time in Lancaster and maybe you enjoyed a “carriage ride” in Central Park. (loved the sign pic). The rides are usually $50 for 20 mins. You might have been able to barter with them by offering the driver 2 shoofly pies, zucchini relish and a stickey bun.

      1. Galen, thanks for the wishes, and you are probably right about the Kindle.

        I did not partake of a buggy ride but enjoyed the sign as I walked (hustled) by and through the obstacle course that is midtown Manhattan.

        1. chastity

          information?

          Hello. I’m new to the site and couldn’t really find anywhere to ask questions, so i figured this place was as good as any. I’ve read up on joining the Amish communities, but i wasn’t able to find a lotof information about who can really join. For instance, I’m a 23 year old single mother of two young children. Never been wed, but am very interested in joining a community.

          1. Chastity for 99.8% of people joining the Amish is not the way to go.

            It’s probably a better idea to identify what is drawing you to Amish life and address that.

            If it is an admiration for certain aspects you identify with Amish society but feel are lacking in your own, maybe try to develop those within your own life and faith tradition.

            This may ultimately lead you to another brand of faith but for nearly everyone it’s unrealistic to successfully conquer the many hurdles to joining the Amish. Nothing bad about that, it’s just the way it is.

            Here are some posts on the topic where this is discussed:

            https://amishamerica.com/so_you_want_to_/

            https://amishamerica.com/amish-topics/#joining-amish

            1. Dody

              Chasity

              Do married people have to remain chaste?

            2. Dody

              I'm sorry

              What I mean is, if you are married, aren’t you allowed to be with your husband?

              1. Whoops

                The comment was referring to the previous commenter’s name, Chastity. Sorry, better use of commas by me would probably have made that clearer. For the record married Amish people do not practice chastity (that is, celibacy). I guess there’s a lot of living proof of that 🙂

    5. Lattice

      “Special Friend” – Person you are courting (boyfriend/girlfriend)

    6. Don Curtis

      Mark's responses

      I didn’t know what any of these were. I called my son, Mark, who joined the Amish and here’s what he says:
      Mountan Pies – You use pie irons and bread and pie filling to make pies
      Council Service – Mark calls is “Ordnung Gmay”
      Galluses – suspenders
      White-Topper – Those are the buggies driven by the Nebraska Amish of the Big Valley
      Can Jam – He didn’t know this one
      Gemeinde Brief – Mark said this could be a number of things. Church letter could be a newsletter. Could be a letter of membership transferrence (usually called a zeugnis brief). Could be a written version of the Ordnung.
      In the Lot – Mark says that after the Stimme Rot the candidates are in “Der Los” (I have not idea what Stimme Rot or Der Los is. I just write them down as he spells them.)
      Grossfeelich – Somebody who thinks they’re a “Big Deal.”
      Naptha – Well, could be Fels-Naptha soap. Also could be “white gas” used in lamps.
      Special Friend – When a boy asks a girl for a date and they start a dating relationship then they are “special friends.”

      1. Lattice

        Don, that’s cool that Mark is kind enough to be on “standby” to give authentic responses, or just to offer his point of view.

        So does Mark have a phone then? For gerneral calls, or is it a “special circumstances” phone? Is it in a shanty or on his person? Just curious about his particular circumstances. Thanks for being the “go between” for us all.

        1. Don Curtis

          Mark's phone

          In my son’s community they are allowed to have a plain phone in the home. But, no answering machines, caller id’s, and no cell phones.

          1. Don Curtis

            Mark's phone

            Mark said that they may only have one phone. It was added to the ordnung that if there is a home business in a separate building that they may have a phone for the business but that it must be a separate line and not an extension. Don’t ask me why but those are their rules.

            1. Marcus Yoder

              Hope you are doing well. I read in the Budget that you had A heart attack.
              Marcus Yoder

              1. Don Curtis

                heart attack

                Hmmm. I didn’t even know that my name came up in the Budget. But I don’t surscribe to it although Mark does. He didn’t mention to me that this was reported. Yes. I had a heart attack on August 7th. I called Mark and he about had a heart attack himself and told (ordered) me to call 911. I was life flighted from the Bellefontaine hospital (Mary Rutan Hospital) to Columbus to the OSU Ross Heart Hospital. My first helicopter ride and I didn’t even get to enjoy the view. Two days, a catheterization, and three stints later I was back home with Fritzi (my three legged dachshund). So, if I wasn’t online during that time I guess you can understand. It was kind of a scare but I’ll soon be 90 and these things can be expected to happen. Mark has been trying to improve my diet. He says I can’t have my coney dogs for lunch every day. Hmmph!

                1. Don, I’m very glad to hear it sounds like you are better. Mark sounds like a loving son and may have good ideas on the coney dogs. You can’t take away all the things you enjoy in life though so maybe a coney dog every other day?

                  Glad Fritzi was around for you, and hope you’ll see more of the view next time you’re in a copter.

                2. Marcus Yoder

                  Yep you made the Budget. The Bellefontaine, Ohio- Belle Center area. I normaly just skim over most columns. I read Belle Center, because some of the Plain City Amish moved to that area.
                  Marcus Yoder

                3. Linda

                  Don, we are glad to have your “shtimm” (voice) on here by writing. You are really with it for your age!

      2. Lance

        Translations of Mark's German words

        Ordnung Gmay is Rules church. It is a twice yearly church meeting to make sure all are in agreement with the church rules. It happens the church service just before the communion church, if all agree, communion, no agreement, no communion. Only takes one person not agreeing to stop communion.

        Zeugnis Brief is testimony letter. If you are in good standing with your church and you move to a likeable enough other Amish church, you get this good conduct letter. You are accepted much more quickly into the new church with one of these letters.

        I can only guess that Stimme Rot is the ministers giving the requirements to be an Amish minister, and then collecting the members votes. All of the men that meet the required number of votes are those in “Der Los”. If you are In Der Los, you are in the lot and one of you will be picked as a minister by picking the Ausbund hymnal with the paper in it that usually has this verse “Pr 16:33 ¶ The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof [is] of the LORD.” This man is said to have been hit by the lot and he immediately accepts becoming a minister or is excommunicated and shunned until he does.

        1. Don Curtis

          Mark's answer

          I asked Mark what a stimme rot is. He said it’s pronounced stimme as in rhyming with Jimmy. Then rot is like rote. It means a voice vote or counsel. He said it is done when they are going to ordain a new minister. All of the members give a nomination of a man in good standing they think would best fill the vacancy. Mark said the last time the men went to the basement door of the house where church was, the women went to the front door of the house. Waiting at the doors were ministeres from other districts who take your nomination back to the other ministers inside. If a man gets three or more nominations, then he is in the lot. After that it is like Lance explained. Mark said that their last ordination was for a new bishop and only the three ministers could be in the lot. The deacon could not.

      3. Lela Kirby

        Some words u left out.

        Now I can’t think of them I love the Amish. Would love to live with them or Mennonite. My gr grand father was a Quaker. Love to read Amish books. They are so relaxing and can read one in 1 day. Have to get more. Thanks.
        Lela

    7. Alice Mary

      Well, ya learn somethin' daily!

      I’m glad Don Curtis has a reliable Amish source in the family! I thought “Grossfeelich” had something to do with being nauseated! 🙂

      Alice Mary

      1. Linda

        Alice Mary, thanks for the laugh about being nauseated.

        Mountain Pie Irons are sold at http://www.lehmans.com.

        Council service is another word for preparatory service or council meeting, before Communion. It’s hard to know whether it should be spelled council or counsel.

        Can jam is new to me. I envisioned strawberry jam in a can. But thanks to Stephanie’s tip, I googled it, and found KanJam, the Ultimate Disc game. I want to tell my friends about this new game.

        In the lot, are the candidates or nominees for an ordination

        Grossfeelich. Gross means big or great. Grossfeelich could mean big-feeling, or feeling big or important, or to think of oneself as great or a somebody. Maybe even proud, haughty, conceited, stuck-up, smart aleck, or a dude. Used in a sentence: “Er is grossfiehlich; er fiehlt sich gross.” (Translation: He is big-feeling; he feels [himself] big.) Does this pertain more to men than women? And what is the opposite? Humble?

      2. My thanks to you Alice Mary too, that is a great interpretation 🙂

        Linda as to council or counsel, I always pause before writing it because, at least from the descriptions of it (no outsiders allowed in) both terms seem they could fit. A highly knowledgeable Amish friend I asked wasn’t sure which of the two would be the proper English description.

        Amish Way (the book) uses “Council Meeting” though so I am going with that one here.

    8. Wm Justice

      Galluses

      Goodness, I have not thought of the word galluses since 1964. My maternal grandfather wore them and he passed away that year. He was a sharecropper in Madison County, Mississippi who fathered eight children and lived as close to the Amish in his way of life as any English I have ever known.
      Thanks Erik for bringing back sweet memories of a very beloved and dear man.

      1. Wm it’s one of my favorite words of my limited PA Dutch vocab. Very cute when the little boys of my friend talk about wearing their galluses (sp?). Where are my galluses? I guess I forgot them today, but for now I have this thing called a belt 🙂

        1. Arthur Craggs

          Galluses

          I have just discovered this site, and find it very interesting.
          I though, I would inform you, that, the word galluses, is a common name for suspenders (Braces) is commonly used here in the North East of England ( Northhumberland, County Durham and North Yorkshire)by the older generation.

          1. Very interesting Arthur. I guess it’s actually an English-language word, like a good bit of what is used in today’s PA Dutch.

    9. Sandy

      most of them I knew, but since you were in Lancaster, what we call the Philly side, I associate with the ones south of Pittsburgh, Somerset County, and they are more conservative than those from Lancaster. Thanks for the review. Fun to remember.

      1. Sandy, I smiled at “Philly Side”…is that your term or local Amish lingo?

    10. Tom Geist

      Answers?

      I know many have given what they know to be the proper answers, but will you list each word again with the proper one Erik?

      If “Grossfeelich” truly means “Somebody who thinks they’re a “Big Deal.” I want to get it put on a hat that I wear when I go see the Amish….as a joke.

      And with the word “Grossfeelich” what is the origin of the word. Do all Amish know this? And finally, is it pronounced like Gross-Feel-ich?
      Thanks for any help you can give me.
      Tom in Lincoln…. LincNebr@hotmail.com

      1. Hi Tom, as for the correct responses, I knew this group would come through with good answers. Among others see Don/Mark Curtis above. On naphtha I was referring to the fuel, and Gemeinde Brief the newsletter (Lancaster Gemeinde Brief comes out every two weeks and includes some, possibly all, daughter settlements as well).

        I made/ate mountain pies twice this week. They came out a lot better the second time around.

        1. Kate H.

          Gemeinde Brief

          Hi,Eric,

          The Gemeinde Brief doesn’t cover all of the Lancaster County daughter settlements. The “Upper Valleys” of Pennsylvania have the Ober Tal Brief, and the Wayne County, Indiana settlement has the “Wayne County News.” They are laid out much like the Gemeinde Brief, with announcements of where church was held last week, which minister had the opening and which preached the main sermon, who the visitors were, and where it will be held in two weeks if God wills. There are announcements of births, deaths, and illnesses, and once a year, there is a listing of who is in which youth group. Finally, there are classified ads and sometimes slick ad inserts.

          1. Thanks Kate for that, I didn’t think it did. Now that you mention it I think this topic came up on the guest post you did last year, in the comments if I’m remembering right.

    11. Alice Mary

      I'm with Tom...

      Yes, Erik! I’d like to know the pronunciation of many “Amish” (Deitsch?) terms I see here and in other text about the Amish. Is there any kind of online “dictionary” for Amish terms/words that has built-in audio pronunciation (like dictionary.com has)?

      Tom said what I’ve been thinking for quite some time. I like his idea about the hat, too! (Tom, let us know how that goes, if you REALLY do it!)

      🙂

      Alice Mary

      1. Alice Mary I don’t know of one like that, though there are some recordings of PA Dutch speakers available online. You can access those here: http://csumc.wisc.edu/AmericanLanguages/german/germ_us.htm

        1. Alice Mary

          Thanks, Erik!

          That’s a great resource, Erik! I listened to a bit from that site, and looked at other links there. This is a resource I’ll remember to use for reference purposes (at work), too. Thank you so much!

          Alice Mary

      2. Tom Geist

        Getting Hat Made....

        Alice Mary…. I have ordered a hat to be embroidered. It will say “Mr. Groszfeelich” on it.

        Even without it this last weekend was fun in Jamesport, MO. I kidded with several Amish acquaintances there that because I was so meek and mild and well mannered one Amish person called me “Groszfeelich.” They laughed. When I acted very serious and asked why they laughed they had a hard time trying to tell me what it really meant. Of course I let them off the hook in the end. =)

        The hat will be here in about 2 weeks. I’m not sure how I could post it on here, but it’s a basic khaki colored baseball hat with the words on it.

        PS…I asked a couple of the Amish how to spell the work and what I listed here is how they thought it was. Either way,Amish people will know the word, English people won’t.

    12. Mountain pies

      Just to clarify these are sandwiches as described in Claudia’s comment at the top and not real pies. Maybe there is a dessert version though?

      1. Round here, some are made as a hot sandwich with lunch meat, cheese, maybe some pizza sauce etc. But they also make a dessert of them by placing pie filling between the 2 buttered pieces of bread and having a “pie” of sorts! So the mountain pie can be a meal complete with dessert!

        1. Why am I not surprised Claudia, a dessert version sounds like a great idea. The sandwiches are delicious if you get them right and not burn them. I think one made from peanut butter schmier, cheese schmier, and some beets, pretzels and pickles left over from church would taste pretty good.

          1. Wendy

            I never new they called them mountain pies. I’ve been eating them since I was a little girl probably 45 years. We call them pie irons. I still have a set down in the basement. My favorite is a Pizza Pie. Take two slices of white bread buttered on the side to the iron, 1 tablespoon of pizza sauce or too taste, Then all your favorite pizza toppings. I use pepperoni, banana peppers, ham, green pepper, onion and whatever else looks good that day.

    13. Catherine

      10 Amish terms

      Just note that not all of these terms are used by all Amish across-the board. For the most part, I agree with the definitions here but would add that here in Canada, grossfeelich could be used interchangably with stoltzisch/stoltzig, essentially meaning proud. As for pie irons, they are more of a lifestyle item, in that any family (Amish or otherwise) that goes camping, has a few. Think of them as a wireless panini maker. They are sold in every hardware store around here in the camping aisle.

      As for Stimme rot/aka Stimme Rat, your Stimme is your voice. A Rat/Rot is a council. It is usually the oral vote of all members, taken when a new leadership position is going to be filled.It doesn’t just happen at preparatory service or communion time. It can happen, for example, when a leadership person dies un expectedly, or if there is an issue that requires every member’s input. That would be why, as one commented, it isn’t open to everyone– just members.

      As for the term Gemay– We would use G’mee. When I was a child we would not say we were going to church but we would “geh ins G’mee”. It is short for Gemeinde.
      Catherine

      1. Gmay

        Thanks Catherine for these north of border insights. On Gmay it’s a soft “G” isn’t it…I have heard that younger folks in Lancaster even drop it to the point that what comes out sounds like “may”. Of course since there’s not really any official PA German spelling we can probably see a few variations in how people try to write it.

    14. Tara

      Amish terms

      I sure do wish there were some Amish communities close to where I live. I think many folks could stand to learn a lot from the Amish, their work ethic and their views on family. I enjoy reading this website so thanks for keeping it up.

    15. Wiebke

      Don't know all of them...

      …but since I’m German, I may have a clue what galusses and grossfeelich means. And Gemeinde brief is so similar to the German Gemeindebrief 😀 Funny.
      Naphtha is some kind of “fuel” (I lack a better word) for lamps and stuff, isn’t it? I read the term in an old-fashioned book…

    16. Rita

      Went to Eastern Market in York, PA (near Lancaster) and asked the Amish girl at one stand for some of her ponhaus. She didn’t know what it was, even after I repeated it. I looked at the sign in front of it and changed my request for scrapple – then she knew what I meant! Thought it was funny I knew an Amish word and she didn’t!

    17. Mark Burr

      words

      an interesting exchange of information !!

    18. Patty Tolliver

      Do you know these Amish terms?

      I haven’t thought about Naptha in a long time. When I was a little girl my mother used a project called Phels Naptha soap. They had it in a powdered form as well as a bar. It really got your clothes white. Then it slowly left the shelves and I haven’t seen it since. Ahh the good old days.

    19. KimH

      You can still get Fels Naptha.. I have some in my pantry & I see it all the time. Just keep your eyes open in the laundry section of many stores..

      Naptha is used as common cleaning solvent. It disolves oil and dirt in a heartbeat and we used it in cleaning vats to clean parts before they went to be painted. I also used it some paint mixes and to clean my paint guns when used with certain paints.

      M’honey uses Naptha in his Zippo lighter.. Its much cheaper to buy a can of naptha than it is to buy a can of “zippo fluid” and a little goes a long long ways.

    20. Patricia Thackston

      pie titled

      I dessert pies are called whoopie pies where the meat pies are called mountain pies, is this correct?

      1. Whoopie pies are actually a specific type of dessert made of two round chocolate cake pieces sandwiching a creamy white filling.

        Mountain pies are made by placing bread, meats, cheese and other sandwich fillings into a long-handled cast iron sandwich maker. Close it and hold it over the fire to cook your mountain pie. It’s more a hot sandwich than a pie.

    21. jim

      Gemeinde brief

      Is the Gemeinde Brief in english? If so, does anyone know how to subscribe?

    22. Herman Zimmerman

      Verhuddelt Means to be disorganized, confused, or strewn about.

      The prefix ver- tends to have somewhat negative connotations close to the English de-

      Verlasse leave

      verbrenne burn up

      verreise to tear apart

      vergelschtre to startle

      verschmeisse to destroy by throwing

      verschmutze to soil with grease, dirt,mud. etc.

      verschneide to cut apart

      versauffe to drown

      vergluppe to destroy by beating

      verdrehe to destroy by twisting

      verblindte to dazzle (temporarily blind)

      verderwe ruin

      verhacke to hack apart

      vergrawwe to bury

    23. TJ/PA

      Some of your terms

      How are Mountain Pies and Naptha soap Amish ?

      1. As I wrote at the top of the post: “Do you know what these 10 Amish-related terms mean?”

        Not invented by Amish, but used by or associated with them.

        Naphtha in this case was naphtha gas, a type of fuel used in many Amish homes for lighting.

        A number of Amish families enjoy eating mountain pies, for instance around a backyard campfire. https://amishamerica.com/pa-amish-trip-highlights/

    24. Barbara Norton

      Ferdoots or Verdootz?

      Hi –

      My Mom was from York, PA and was Pennsylvania Dutch. She often used the word “ferdoots” or “verdutz” to mean messed up or mixed up. Have you ever heard of this word? Am I spelling it correctly?

      Thank you for your help!