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Jew

[joo]
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noun
  1. one of a scattered group of people that traces its descent from the Biblical Hebrews or from postexilic adherents of Judaism; Israelite.
  2. a person whose religion is Judaism.
  3. a subject of the ancient kingdom of Judah.
adjective
  1. Offensive. of Jews; Jewish.
verb (used with object)
  1. (lowercase) Offensive. to bargain sharply with; beat down in price (often followed by down).

Origin of Jew

1125–75; Middle English jewe, giu, gyu, ju < Old French juiu, juieu, gyu < Late Latin judēus, Latin jūdaeus < Greek ioudaîos < Aramaic yehūdāi < Hebrew Yəhūdhī, derivative of Yəhūdhāh Judah; replacing Old English iūdēas Jews < Late Latin jūdē(us) + Old English -as plural ending
Related formsnon-Jew, noun

Usage note

The adjectival use of Jew, as in the phrase Jew boy, is now perceived as insulting; the adjective Jewish should be used instead. The verb jew (down) is also perceived as offensive, because it perpetuates the stereotype of the shrewd Jewish moneylender or haggler. Originally, however, both the adjective and the verb were used in a neutral way by Jews and non-Jews.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for jews

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • But the Egyptians heard of this and guarded the Jews more carefully than ever before.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • The Jews have crossed the river Jordan and have occupied Palestine.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • After a time, however, the Jews and the Canaanites became friends.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • The Jews were the subjects of a foreign race and money was scarce.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • But when the Jews entered Palestine, the Canaanites lived in towns and villages.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon


British Dictionary definitions for jews

Jew

noun
  1. a member of the Semitic people who claim descent from the ancient Hebrew people of Israel, are spread throughout the world, and are linked by cultural or religious ties
  2. a person whose religion is Judaism
See also Hebrew, Israeli

Word Origin

C12: from Old French juiu, from Latin jūdaeus, from Greek ioudaios, from Hebrew yehūdī, from yehūdāh Judah
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for jews

Jew

n.

late 12c. (in plural, giwis), from Anglo-French iuw, Old French giu, from Latin Iudaeum (nominative Iudaeus), from Greek Ioudaios, from Aramaic jehudhai (Hebrew y'hudi) "Jew," from Y'hudah "Judah," literally "celebrated," name of Jacob's fourth son and of the tribe descended from him. Replaced Old English Iudeas "the Jews." Originally, "Hebrew of the kingdom of Judah."

Jews' harp "simple mouth harp" is from 1580s, earlier Jews' trump (1540s); the connection with Jewishness is obscure. Jew-baiting first recorded 1853, in reference to German Judenhetze. In uneducated times, inexplicable ancient artifacts were credited to Jews, based on the biblical chronology of history: e.g. Jews' money (1570s) "Roman coins found in England." In Greece, after Christianity had erased the memory of classical glory, ruins of pagan temples were called "Jews' castles," and in Cornwall, Jews' houses was the name for the remains of ancient tin-smelting works.

jew

v.

"to cheat, to drive a hard bargain," 1824, from Jew (n.) (cf. gyp, welsh, etc.). The campaign to eliminate it in early 20c. was so successful that people began to avoid the noun and adjective, too, and started using Hebrew instead.

Now I'll say 'a Jew' and just the word Jew sounds like a dirty word and people don't know whether to laugh or not. [Lenny Bruce (1925-1966)]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

jews in Culture

Jews

The Israelites, particularly after their return from captivity in Babylon (see also Babylon) about five hundred years before the birth of Jesus; at that time, the Israelites were established as a religious group, founded on the Mosaic law, not simply a national group.

Note

When the Jewish nation was destroyed by the Romans in the year a.d. 70 and the Jews were scattered throughout the world, their religious beliefs and customs allowed them to remain one people.

Jews

Adherents of Judaism.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.