ghetto

noun
ghet·​to | \ ˈge-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce ghetto (audio) \
plural ghettos also ghettoes

Definition of ghetto

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a quarter of a city in which Jews were formerly required to live
2 : a quarter of a city in which members of a minority group live especially because of social, legal, or economic pressure
3a : an isolated group a geriatric ghetto
b : a situation that resembles a ghetto especially in conferring inferior status or limiting opportunity the pink-collar ghetto

ghetto

adjective

Definition of ghetto (Entry 2 of 3)

often disparaging
: of, relating to, being, or characteristic of a ghetto (see ghetto entry 1 sense 2) or the people who live there ghetto youth/music ghetto neighborhoods Features that, according to [El] Jones, are often shamed and seen as "ugly, ghetto, or unprofessional" when on Black people, but suddenly become desirable and attractive when on a white person.CBC Kids News And lest anyone think graffiti itself is dead … the memorial walls are the latest outburst and refinement of ghetto art springing up in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and beyond.— David Gonzalez … the many social and cultural factors that went into the creation of a permanent class of ghetto poor, unable to move into the mainstream.— Jonathan Alter

ghetto

verb
ghettoed; ghettoing; ghettos

Definition of ghetto (Entry 3 of 3)

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Did You Know?

The etymology of Italian ghetto was formerly the subject of much speculation, but today there is little doubt that the word comes from the Italian dialect form ghèto, meaning “foundry.” A foundry for cannons was once located on an island that forms part of Venice, where in 1516 the Venetians restricted Jewish residence. The word ghèto became the name for the area and was borrowed into standard Italian as ghetto, with the meaning of “section of a city where Jews are forced to live.” From there it passed into most other European languages. Since the late 19th century, the meaning of ghetto has been extended to crowded urban districts where other ethnic or racial groups have been confined by poverty or prejudice.

Examples of ghetto in a Sentence

Noun He grew up in the ghetto.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Among the Jewish public health officials working within the ghetto was epidemiologist Ludwik Hirszfeld, who co-discovered the inheritance of blood types. Courtney Sexton, Smithsonian Magazine, "How a Public Health Campaign in the Warsaw Ghetto Stemmed the Spread of Typhus," 27 July 2020 Germany invaded the region in 1941, forcing the approximately 3,000 Jews of Iwje into a ghetto. New York Times, "Barry Goldsmith, Who Escaped, Dropped Out and Came Back, Dies at 82," 11 Jan. 2021 News was spreading that the Nazis, who had forced the city’s Jews into the ghetto a year earlier, were planning to liquidate it. New York Times, "Barry Goldsmith, Who Escaped, Dropped Out and Came Back, Dies at 82," 11 Jan. 2021 In an infamous episode in the Lodz ghetto, Chaim Rumkowski, the Jewish official in charge, followed Nazi orders to deport thousands, including the elderly and children under the age of 10, to the Chelmno extermination camp. Matt Mckinney, Star Tribune, "Betty Berman, Holocaust survivor and Mia docent, dies at 90," 19 Dec. 2020 John Singleton’s seminal coming-of-age film follows the lives of three young males living in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los Angeles, dissecting questions of race, relationships, violence and future prospects. Ben Flanagan | Bflanagan@al.com, al, "New on Netflix December 2020," 1 Dec. 2020 There’s urban-ghetto reality in Kurzel’s surrealism. Armond White, National Review, "2020’s Great Gangsta Epic," 18 Dec. 2020 Teaching ghetto kids to read a couple hours a week in some loud, crowded, funky laundromat, bro. John Edgar Wideman, The New Yorker, "Rwanda," 7 Dec. 2020 John Singleton’s seminal coming-of-age film follows the lives of three young males living in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los Angeles, dissecting questions of race, relationships, violence and future prospects. Ben Flanagan | Bflanagan@al.com, al, "New on Netflix December 2020," 1 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ghetto.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ghetto

Noun

1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1892, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1936, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ghetto

Noun and Verb

Italian, from Venetian dialect ghèto island where Jews were forced to live, literally, foundry (located on the island), from ghetàr to cast, from Latin jactare to throw — more at jet

Adjective

from attributive of ghetto entry 1

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Statistics for ghetto

Last Updated

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ghetto.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ghetto. Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for ghetto

ghetto

noun

English Language Learners Definition of ghetto

: a part of a city in which members of a particular group or race live usually in poor conditions
: the poorest part of a city

ghetto

noun
ghet·​to | \ ˈge-tō How to pronounce ghetto (audio) \
plural ghettos or ghettoes

Kids Definition of ghetto

: a part of a city in which members of a particular group live in poor conditions

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