ghetto

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

Definition of ghetto

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

verb
ghettoed; ghettoing; ghettos

Definition of ghetto (Entry 2 of 2)

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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

But for black people in public, the specter of the urban ghetto always lurks. Elijah Anderson, Vox, "The sociology of living while black," 10 Aug. 2018 Not broke, which isn’t poor, and not bohemian poor, like a gentrifier living in the ghetto but able to afford nice clothes. Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, Glamour, "I'm an Immigrant. When I Spend Money on Makeup, I'm Paying to Feel Safe.," 17 Dec. 2018 Re-education ghettos are very bad for business and deadly for human rights. WSJ, "The Info Companies Bow to Totalitarian Idol," 9 Jan. 2019 Some were survivors of Nazi camps and the ghettos in the East. Emanuella Grinberg, Smithsonian, "When a Bavarian Monastery Provided a Home to Jewish Refugees," 11 July 2018 They were relocated to a cramped apartment, then to the Jewish ghetto in Krakow, then, in 1942, to the Plaszow concentration camp nearby. Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, "Gena Turgel, Holocaust Survivor With a Love Story, Dies at 95," 13 June 2018 Spielberg said swastikas were sometimes painted overnight. Recreating scenes like those in the Krakow ghetto and at Auschwitz were, Spielberg said, very difficult for most of those involved. Washington Post, "In emotional reunion, Spielberg revisits ‘Schindler’s List’," 27 Apr. 2018 The Latina girls were right next door to the ghetto dorms were right next door to Suburbia. Candice Frederick, Teen Vogue, ""Orange Is the New Black" Star Adrienne C. Moore on Cindy’s Ultimate Betrayal," 25 Aug. 2018 Born in Krakow, Poland as Gena Goldfinger on Feb. 1, 1923, Turgel and her family were forced to move into a Jewish ghetto with only a sack of potatoes, some flour and a few belongings in late 1941. NBC News, "Holocaust survivor Gena Turgel, consoler of Anne Frank, dies," 10 June 2018

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

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

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Statistics for ghetto

Last Updated

4 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for ghetto

The first known use of ghetto was in 1611

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on ghetto

Spanish Central: Translation of ghetto

Nglish: Translation of ghetto for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ghetto for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ghetto

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