Slang etymology question: can you identify this word/phrase & origin?
May 12, 2017 8:17 PM   Subscribe

I grew up in NYC, and there was some slang my mother used about which I'm suddenly curious. The word sounds like "oon-ka-posh", and I was told it conveys over-the-top tasteless luxury simulacra, sort of like poshlust consisting exclusively of gilded plaster statues and giant crystal swans. Has anyone else heard this and have any idea where it comes from (uncaposc? une capoche?)
posted by paul_smatatoes to Writing & Language (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
it would help to know your mother's background, and what communities were in your neighborhood in new york at the time.

It would also help to know if this was a noun, adjective, adverb, exclamation, or any of the above.

maybe use it in a sentence?
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:26 PM on May 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ungapatchka!
posted by Saccade at 8:29 PM on May 12, 2017 [38 favorites]

I would have probably phoneticized it uhng-ah-pached but it's definitely Yiddish and means overdone or excessively worked/adorned.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:11 PM on May 12, 2017

My grandmother and great grandmother used the term the way it was defined in the link from Saccade. Overly done, gauche, too much.
posted by AugustWest at 9:43 PM on May 12, 2017

"Stop patchky-ing with it" is what I heard many times growing up.
posted by oxisos at 9:44 PM on May 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I watched the video in the link and can understand a number of ways that you could use ungapatchka with that definition, but what would prompt someone to say "stop patchkying with it"? Is that just the equivalent of "stop playing around with it"?
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:04 PM on May 12, 2017

posted by lazuli at 10:06 PM on May 12, 2017

Yes treehorn+bunny, that is the meaning I am familiar with. Like, when your mom gives you a small piece of dough to bake for yourself and you spend hours crafting the perfect shape, making it so dense that it doesn't rise. She probably got the phrase from her Yiddish/German speaking parents.
posted by oxisos at 10:20 PM on May 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I didn't realize it was a Yiddish word until I saw it used in an article about Larry Flynt's wedding.
posted by brujita at 12:13 AM on May 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Potchke is like... a process can be a potchke ("they're tasty, but they're a potchke to make") or you can potchke around with something (basically means "fiddle around with".) Ongepatchket is the adjective.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:51 AM on May 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

A potch is a slap.
posted by brujita at 8:54 AM on May 13, 2017

I wonder if this is where hodgepodge comes from.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:31 PM on May 13, 2017

Best answer: Saccade has it. Here it is in a Yiddish dictionary and on Wiktionary.

It has no etymological connection to "hodge-podge."
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:38 PM on May 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

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