The origin of the word “Tzimus” is not entirely clear. “Tsimes” (sometimes spelled tsimmes or tzimmes) is a Yiddish word for an Ashkenazi stewed dish made variously of carrots, prunes and sometimes meat. It is not salty, but sweet, and for that reason it is particularly associated with Rosh Hashanah (New Year). This is probably not the origin of Gurdjieff’s “Tzimus.”

Most likely, Gurdjieff borrowed “Tzimus” from Russian. It is a Russian slang word, meaning “pith” or “essence,” and is a word favored by Russian Jews.