בִּישׁ מַזָּל

You may have been congratulating people with Mazel Tov – מזל טוב – your whole life and not realized that it means literally, good luck.

Well, bad luck is either מזל רע , or the more common and true-to-the-sources (the Talmudic ones) expression, ביש מזל .

For example:

היה לו ביש מזל ונקלע למלכודת.

He had bad luck and fell into a trap.

The word ביש comes from Aramaic, but it’s related to the Hebrew root ב.א.ש meaning stinking, gone bad, as in the word for skunk – בואש .