See also: gypsy



From Middle English Gipcyan, Gypcyan, (Gyptian), from Old French gyptien. Short for Egyptian, from Latin aegyptius, because when Roma first appeared in England in the sixteenth century they were wrongly believed to have come from Egypt. The Albanian term Evgit, Greek γύφτος (gýftos), Italian gitano and Spanish gitano have the same origin. Doublet of Copt.

The other major categories of words for the Roma are cognates of Rom (words related to the Romani people's autonyms) and cognates of tzigane (words derived from Greek); see those entries for more information.



Gypsy (plural Gypsies)

  1. (sometimes offensive) A member of the Romani people, or one of the sub-groups (Roma, Sinti, Romanichal, etc).
  2. A member of other nomadic peoples, not only of the Romani people; a traveller. Alternative spelling of gypsy

Usage notesEdit

  • Gypsy is an exonym (a name given by outsiders, based on the mistaken belief that Romanis came from Egypt) and some Romani people find it offensive, as it has negative connotations,[1][2] such as that the people are dishonest or thieving (compare gypsy, gyp), and it is associated with discrimination and persecution of Romani. Many dictionaries recommend avoiding the term, or give it a negative or warning label.[3][4][5][6][7][8] Gypsy is still more common overall than Romani.[9]
  • Roma (Rroma) or Rom (Rrom) are sometimes found as synonyms, although narrowly speaking, they refer to a subgroup.


Derived termsEdit


Proper nounEdit


  1. (rare, sometimes offensive) The language Romani.
  2. A female given name.
    • 1894, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Gypsy Breynton, page 130:
      "Why, good afternoon, Miss Gypsy," said Sir Simms; "I'm surprised to see you such a warm day — very much surprised. But you always were a remarkable young lady ..."

Usage notesEdit

See the notes about the noun, above.



Gypsy (not comparable)

  1. (sometimes offensive) Of or belonging to the Romani people or one of it sub-groups (Roma, Sinti, Romanichel, etc).

Usage notesEdit

See the notes about the noun, above.


See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit


  1. ^ 1994, Jean-Pierre Liégeois, Roma, Gypsies, Travellers
  2. ^ 1999, Arthur Kean Spears, Race and ideology: language, symbolism, and popular culture
  3. ^ Tom Dalzell, editor (2007) The new Partridge dictionary of slang and unconventional English, reprint edition, London [u.a.]: Routledge, →ISBN, page 943
  4. ^ Merriam-Webster's pocket guide to English usage, Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1998, →ISBN, page 178
  5. ^ Bryan A. Garner (2009) Garner's modern American usage, 3rd edition edition, New York: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 405
  6. ^ [by] H.E. Wedeck with the assistance of Wade Baskin (1973) Dictionary of gypsy life and lore, New York: Philosophical Library, →ISBN
  7. ^ A dictionary of modern legal usage, 3rd edition edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, →ISBN, page 400
  8. ^ Guido Bolaffi, editor (2002) Dictionary of race, ethnicity and culture, 1. publ. edition, London: Sage, →ISBN, page 291
  9. ^ Ngrams