I just discovered that if you do a Google search on the term “kayn ayin hora,” the first thing that pops up is Blog D’Elisson. Weird.
Kayn ayin hora, variously rendered as kein ayin hara, kinahora, kennahorra, or kennanhora, is one of those useful Yiddish expressions that is used to ward off the Evil Eye. The Hebrew version is “b’li ayin ha-ra,” literally “without [the] evil eye.” Superstitious people will use this expression after saying anything good about someone or something, as though a compliment would cause God to change his mind and throw some bad luck at you.
How was your physical? No problem, kayn ayin hora. [If you don’t tack on the “kayn ayin hora,” the doctor will call to say he forgot to tell you about a little spot on the X-ray.]It’s almost a verbal tic. Hang around old Jewish people and you’ll hear it a lot. Or its more revolting equivalent, the “tuh, tuh, tuh” sound that mimics expectoration:
My son Charlie just got into Yale, kennahorra. [Omit “kennahorra” and a letter may show up in the mail telling you that they just discovered a problem with Charlie’s SAT scores, and his admission letter is rescinded.]
How are you today? Fine, thanks, kinahora. [Leave off the “kinahora” and you might get hit by a runaway bus.]
My niece Sheila is getting married to a nice doctor next Sunday. Tuh,tuh,tuh.Yep: ward off that evil eye by pretending to spit in it.
One of our favorite scenes in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was when the happy couple walks down the aisle and gets showered in saliva, to the horror of the groom’s WASP parents. It was the Greek version of “tuh, tuh, tuh.” Hey, are you sure them people is Greeks? Maybe this evil eye paranoia is a Mediterranean thing, like souvlaki or falafel.
My Irish friend Sean Ferguson (AKA Shayn Fargessen) always used to say:
How are things in Glocca Morra?But whatever you do, don’t confuse “kennahorra” with that, er, ahhh, social disease.
“Fine, denks, kennahorra.”
You know. Gonna Horra. Which I never got, kennahorra.