- (sometimes offensive) Alternative form of Gypsy: a member of the Romani people.
- (offensive) An itinerant person or any person suspected of making a living from dishonest practices or theft; a member of a nomadic people, not necessarily Romani; a carny.
See the usage note about Gypsy.
- Alternative form of Gypsy: of or belonging to the Romani people or one of it sub-groups (Roma, Sinti, Romanichel, etc).
- (offensive) Of or having the qualities of an itinerant person or group with qualities traditionally ascribed to Romani people; making a living from dishonest practices or theft etc.
- If anyone questions them, they'll fold up faster than a gypsy roofing company.
See the notes about Gypsy.
(third-person singular simple present gypsies, present participle gypsying, simple past and past participle gypsied)
- (intransitive) To roam around the country like a gypsy.
See Gypsy. The generic usage that refers to any itinerant person who is suspected of dishonest practices derives from traditional racist stereotypes of the Romani people.
Compare bohemian, from Bohemia.
- (sometimes offensive) A member of the Romani people, or one of it sub-groups (Roma, Sinti, Romanichal, etc).
- A member of other nomadic peoples, not only of the Romani people; a traveller. Alternative spelling of gypsy.
An exonym (external name) based on the mistaken belief that the Romani people came from Egypt, the term Gypsy is loaded with negative connotations. Some dictionaries therefore recommend avoiding use of the term gypsy either entirely, or as a negative modifier. Careful speakers and most international organizations typically use Romani, Roma, or Rom as designations for the people, although narrowly speaking, the last two designate a subgroup. Rrom and Rroma (spellings which represent a trilled ‘r’) also find occasional use.
However, Gypsy is more common in informal speech than Romani, and is the term used by some British laws and court decisions, such as the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 and the 1989 decision in the case of the Commission for Racial Equality v Dutton. This is because its offensiveness is not always understood by non-Romani, whose use of it is often not intended to cause offense. Further, some Romani organizations use "Gypsy" as a self-designation.
- (rare, sometimes offensive) The language Romani.
See the notes about the noun, above.
- (sometimes offensive) Of or belonging to the Romani people or one of it sub-groups (Roma, Sinti, Romanichel, etc).
From Middle English Gipcyan, Gypcyan (Gyptian), from Old French gyptien. Short for Egyptian, from Latin aegyptius, because when they first appeared in England in the sixteenth century they were wrongly believed to have come from Egypt. The Albanian term Evgit, Greek γύφτος (gýftos) and Spanish gitano have the same origin.
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.