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noun (1)

plural Roma ˈrō-mə How to pronounce Rom (audio) or Rom also Roms
: a member of a traditionally itinerant people who originated in northern India and now live chiefly in Europe and in smaller numbers throughout the world : romani
Although they face discrimination … these women are leading the integration of the Roma into European society.Lisa Abend

Note: The Roma are also referred to as Gypsies, a term that is still frequently encountered in English but is increasingly regarded as offensive.


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noun (2)

: a usually small computer memory that contains special-purpose information (such as a program) which cannot be altered compare ram

Word History


Noun (1)

borrowed from Romani řom "man, married man, male Rom," probably going back to or cognate with medieval Sanskrit ḍombaḥ "man of low caste living by performing music"

Note: The ř in řom represents a sound with diverse outcomes in modern Romani dialects; in the Kalderaš dialect of Romania it is a uvular trill, contrasting with a dental trill written as r. Initially, as in this word, ř usually continues a retroflex dental in the Indo-Aryan ancestor of Romani. Likely cognates of řom are dom, a self-designation of the Dom, a marginalized, traditionally itinerant ethnic group of southwest Asia, and lom, the self-designation of the Poša or Lom, a similar group in Armenia. The Sanskrit word ḍombaḥ is apparently first attested in the Kathāsaritsāgara, an 11th-century collection of tales and legends reprising much older material.

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1841, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1966, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Rom was in 1841

Dictionary Entries Near Rom

Cite this Entry

“Rom.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
plural Roma
or Rom also Roms
: romani


2 of 2 noun
: a usually small computer memory that contains special-purpose information (as a program) which cannot be altered compare ram

More from Merriam-Webster on Rom

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