Thursday, August 21, 2014


Chutzpah (pronounced Hootspa) is a Jewish word meaning audacity or nerve.
I checked the for the meaning of audacity.  It gives the following:
Boldness or daring, especially with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions
This is a Yiddish word for the confidence or courage that allows someone to do or say things that may seem shocking to others. In other words, it’s having the “gall” or “nerve”. 
It can be used for both good and bad.  Guy Kawasaki, who was the first marketing head for Steve Jobs, said calling up tech support to report a bug on pirated software is chutzpah.
Here are a few people who had Chutzpah (me think):
Nelson Mandela – Displayed audacity in his response to an oppressive regime in South Africa.
Rosa Parks – Refused to sit in the back of the bus (where black people are supposed to sit).
Mahatma Gandhi – Attended the 1930 Round Table Conference in London and visited Buckingham Palace at the invitation of the King without a shirt and wearing a garb.
Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee – In 1999, when presenting the Stree Shakthi Puraskar award to Chinna Pillai, a village woman from Tamil Nadu, the much older Prime Minister bowed down in respect and touched her feet.  That is chutzpah.
(Courtesy: Yahoo)
John Reid - 4th cricket test match India vs. New Zealand at Feroz Shah Kotla ground in New Delhi which began on March 19, 1965. On the last day, almost at the closing time, India started to bat for the second innings. India needed 70 runs to win. After about a few overs, the drinks came on to the field. This is a good chance for the New Zealanders to “waste” precious time and thus end the test in a draw. Do you know what the New Zealand Captain John Reid did? He told the drinks people not to come on to the field and continued the match without a drinks break. India won by 7 wickets. I call that chutzpah (sending back the drinks and giving the opponent a fair chance to win.) How many cricket captains will do that?
When your bank sends you a nasty letter because you are one day late with your mortgage payment and at the end of the letter it says “We are your friendly banker and excellent customer satisfaction is our motto”.  That is also chutzpah.
In Mumbai, the parents of my cousin arranged a bride for him.  They were supposed to make a formal visit to the bride’s home on a Sunday.  But my cousin was very curious to see how his future potential wife looks.  He could not wait until the next Sunday.  So, the previous Sunday, he goes to the bride’s home unannounced and tells the bride and her parents that he is the uncle of the groom.  He said he will not be coming next week for the formal visit because he is going to Madras.  The bride’s family took care of him well (SKC - Sweet, Kaaram, Coffee) including the bride doing namaskaram (falling on his feet).
Next Sunday he goes with his parents to the bride’s home.  The bride and her parents were shocked to see this guy as the groom.  When they asked him about this, my cousin said he came the previous week because he was curious to see how his future wife would look like. Posing as groom’s uncle the previous Sunday is Chutzpah. (They both got married and now live in a place called Chembur in Mumbai.)
Do you know anyone with chutzpah?  Please tell me.  Thanks.


  1. hmmm after thinking a lot sadly i dont find anyone who had chitzpah :)

    but you have given some good examples I had to smile at someone calling the support over a bug faced by pirated software :)


  2. Nicely written!

    Can't recall anybody just now. But i like the sound of 'Chutzpah'

  3. A word with different meanings-positive and negative- will bear the sense according to the situation.

    You have illustrated it very well with suitable paradigms. Really a nice topic

  4. Thanks for introducing me to this word, SG! It is an interesting word which has so much depth in its meaning.
    Atal ji's gesture is touching.

    I can think of one instance -

    My friend gave up his highly paid job to work as an environmentalist, literally cleaning up rivers in India. Happy that he is really successful in that. That is Chutzpah.

  5. Thanks for your comments Bikram. I am glad you liked this post.

  6. Thanks for your comments Asha. I am glad you liked this word.

  7. Thanks for your comments Sarala. I am glad you liked this post.

  8. Thanks for your comments Rohini. Leaving a high paying job and go to work to clean the environment is really a great chutzpah. How many people will do that?

  9. If he claimed that he was the uncle of the groom, there should be an age difference no? How did the bride's side buy that?

    I like people who display Chutzpah. But I don't like the word - too complex!

    Destination Infinity

  10. Thanks to your post, I learnt a new word :) Those examples you gave are awesome - especially the Atal Bihari Vajpayee one. He is simply a great human being.

  11. Thanks for your comments Rajesh. To answer your question, it is not necessarily. Suppose a family has 8 children, the eldest is a girl and the youngest is a boy, then the eldest girl's son will be almost the same age as his uncle (the 8th child).

    I know my wife's friend is older than her chithi (mother's younger sister).

  12. Thanks for your comments Ashu. Mr. Vajpayee is great.

  13. Complicated spelling. But I really liked the sound of it. Thanks for so many chutzpah instances.

    I wish something chutzpah happens in my life!!!

  14. Thanks for your comments Satya. Your wish will become a reality very soon.

  15. Nice information you shared!
    I did not know the meaning and such details! (few I know rest I did not)
    Well... I think Jinnah suits the category too. Numerous dates in history he has confronted the Britishers and had been clear about his points and ideology!He stood for the oppressed and demanded their freedom. Also one situation I remember I read somewhere:
    He refused to attend the second round table conference because it was ALI DAY (seldom noted in history that he mentioned it was Ali day. It was the day of martyrdom of the son in law of Holy Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.W and is a day to mourn a great loss of the bravest warrior in history) and it is a bold thing to do to keep your religious views firm and respect them above anything.
    I like him and wish the leader like him or Mr Nelson Mandella are what all developing nations truly need.
    And another example of audacity is my Grand father's. He was asked in a firm to cancel certain order of import as officials thought it was a loss. He thought it was the biggest profit. He took a risk on his job and did not cancel the order and shipment and faced many difficulties and later that order was most beneficial for the firm :P :D

  16. The story of your cousin is very good. I am sure we all must be having such stories, but can't remember it right away.However, it was good reading about it in your blog. Sorry for not being so regular, been preoccupied with something or other

  17. Thanks for your comments Ph. And, also thanks for giving us a few examples of "chutzpah".

  18. Thanks for your comments Rama. Every time I see him, I make fun of him and his wife.

  19. Chutzpah! Well explained with good examples SG... Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!

    Vinayak Damodar Savarkar's life is the best example of a Chutzpah, I think. His will to get freedom for the nation, his dare to escape and swim the ocean, his dare to get to know how fearful they were about Indians after 'Prathama Swatantrya Sangrama 1857', his dare to supply the weapons inside the carved books, his dare to end his life through Praayopavesha (without having any food)...

    How about Nethaji Subhash Chandra Bose? We know that he had that dare to unite to fight against the British when most of the Congress members had accepted the British Raj.

    Swami Vivekananda, who loved all the living being equally irrespective of their religion, who refused conversion of religions of the foreigners that were willing to follow Swamiji... he was also a chutzpah...

    Late Rajiv Dixit (still his Swadeshi movement is alive), Kannada writer SL Bhairappa, our current PM Narendra Modi... There are many live chutzpah examples around us! TC! Keep smiling :)

  20. Thanks for putting up the pronunciation.

    I'm not able to recollect any incident related to this, but I am surprised with the John Reid episode. I did not know that. And as for your cousin- that is mighty daring. Great job! :-)