A street in a ghetto.
An example of a ghetto is South Central Los Angeles.
- in certain European cities, a section to which Jews were formerly restricted
- any section of a city in which many members of some minority group live, or to which they are restricted as by economic pressure or social discrimination
- any place or condition regarded as isolating or restricting a particular group of people
Origin of ghettoIt, literally , foundry (; from gettare, to pour ; from Vulgar Latin an unverified form jectare, for Classical Latin jactare, to throw, cast), name of a quarter in Venice occupied by Jews, origin, originally location of a cannon foundry
nounpl. ghet·tos or ghet·toes
- A usually poor section of a city inhabited primarily by people of the same race, religion, or social background, often because of discrimination.
- An often walled quarter in a European city to which Jews were restricted beginning in the Middle Ages.
- Something that resembles the restriction or isolation of a city ghetto: “trapped in ethnic or pink-collar managerial job ghettoes” (Diane Weathers).
Origin of ghettoItalian, after Ghetto, island near Venice where Jews were made to live in the 16th century.
(plural ghettos or ghettoes or ghetti)
- An (often walled) area of a city in which Jews are concentrated by force and law. (Used particularly of areas in medieval Italy and in Nazi-controlled Europe.)
- An (often impoverished) area of a city inhabited predominantly by members of a specific nationality, ethnicity, or race.
- An area in which people who are distinguished by sharing something other than ethnicity concentrate or are concentrated.
(comparative more ghetto, superlative most ghetto)
- Of or relating to a ghetto or to ghettos in general.
- (slang, informal) Unseemly and indecorous or of low quality; cheap; shabby, crude.
- My apartment's so ghetto, the rats and cockroaches filed a complaint with the city!
- I like to drive ghetto cars; if they break down you can just abandon them and pick up a new one!
- (US, informal) Characteristic of the style, speech, or behavior of residents of a predominantly black or other ghetto in the United States.
- Having been raised in a ghetto in the United States.
(third-person singular simple present ghettoes, present participle ghettoing, simple past and past participle ghettoed)
- To confine (a specified group of people) to a ghetto.
Borrowing from Italian ghetto, from Venetian, ghèto (“foundry”). Alternatively an apocope of the Italian borghetto, diminutive of borgo (“village”). Initially used of the areas Jews were concentrated, later extended to concentrations of other ethnicities and then non-ethic groups. The adjective and verb derive from the noun.