Nothing specific can be said from the context and only one thing came up in my google search. I know it's a name, and it's probably Arabic in origin. But it just doesn't add up to the story really. It's in the last sentence of the following paragraph:

"You doctors," continued Levinson, "spend your efforts treating symptoms instead of causes. Because I am tired, I must go somewhere and rest; because I can't sleep, I must get out somewhere and exercise; because I have no appetite, I must go away from my business! Why don't you find why I am tired, and can't sleep or eat? I should run my business like that and in a year I'd be broke—machullah!"

I only found it on a thread about favorite words (not poker related words) in a poker forum:

"I've always heard it pronounced gunef or even ganef and in my experience it's meaning is more angle-shooter than out and out crook although I have certainly heard it used in the context of a guy who's business went "machullah" or busto and had all of his property in his wife's name."

So I guess it's something about bankruptcy?

I'm translating this story and really need to know its exact meaning and what language it is from. Thanks!

2 Answers 2


You are right. The word "machullah" has Jewish origins and connotes bankruptcy. Here is a quote from Hearst's magazine Vol 37:

"Mr. Raynor," said Benno, impressively, "I'm what they call in Jewish, machullah. It's like broke and busted only it's worse.

Also, consider the following excerpt from The Jew in Old American Folklore:

In addition, peculiar language humor about failure is created. An example is this late (1885) report from the West Coast forwarded to the East and adorned with a whole row of names: "Have we a holiday called 'Machullah?' I ask because there are a number of stores closed, and if anyone is asked for the reason, the answer is 'Machullah,.'


So I found out the meaning, 'going machullah' means 'going bankrupt'.

  • 3
    Please can you edit to add some support for this answer, e.g. saying where you found out the meaning? It's good to know that you managed to solve your question, but it's even better if this Q&A serves a purpose for future readers, adding to the larger repository of knowledge by being verifiably correct.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Mar 17, 2018 at 12:18

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