General English


  • noun the part of a city (usually with poor housing) which is predominantly occupied by an ethnic or sectarian minority


  • noun the area of a town where many people of the same ethnic group or background live, separately from the rest of the population


  • adjective cheap, of poor quality, in poor taste, old, broken down. The term is not racist, but is primarily in use among white adolescents.

Origin & History of “ghetto”

English acquired ghetto from Italian, but its precise history is uncertain. among the suggestions are that it represents Italian getto ‘foundry’, from a Jewish enclave in Venice established on the site of a medieval foundry in 1516; that it is short for Italian borghetto, a diminutive form of borgo ‘settlement outside city walls’ (to which English borough is related); and that it was an alteration of Latin Aegyptus ‘Egypt’, presumably an allusion to the captivity of the Jews in Egypt.