from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. One more concerned with airy intellectual pursuits than practical matters like earning an income.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Yiddish, from German luft ("air"), and mensch ("person").


  • The story begins when Voshchev, a classic Chekhovian luftmensch, is fired from his job for excessive "thoughtfulness amid the general tempo of labor."

    From the editor

  • Third, and most striking to me, is that these remarks showed him to be an unprofessional luftmensch.

    TEXAS FAITH: Brit Hume and Tiger Woods | RELIGION Blog |

  • Some days, I want to be a luftmensch and just sit around, smoke, write painfully exquisite fiction, have sex, eat, drink and let the whole shebang take care of itself. posted by Dean at

    Archive 2003-09-01

  • He began writing about Menachem Mendel, an overly optimistic luftmensch an impractical person who literally lives on air who speculated, to his wife's dismay, in all kinds of get-rich-quick schemes.

    NYT > Home Page

  • He's obviously a judgmental, punitive, rigid ideologue at heart, and a bully, but he's also a luftmensch, lost in abstraction and theory, who would rather win an argument than learn something, and he gets his rocks off nailing people for doctrinal mistakes rather than actually doing anything or attending to stuff that's happening on the ground.

    The Reality-Based Community

  • Greenberg's arrogant luftmensch routine is infuriating-everyone but him wants to live in the here and now.

    The New Yorker

  • Joseph père, a luftmensch who thinks that "nature uses man," is convinced that "lifelessness … is only a disguise behind which lie unknown forms of life.

    An Apt Show for New York: The Street of Crocodiles


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  • JM gazed heavenward, rubbed his chin and thought of other folk who might be luftmensch

    February 1, 2009

  • Another great German word!

    October 8, 2008