[ get-oh ]
/ ˈgɛt oʊ /
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See synonyms for: ghetto / ghettos on Thesaurus.com

noun, plural ghet·tos, ghet·toes.

a section of a city, especially a thickly populated slum area, inhabited predominantly by members of an ethnic or other minority group, often as a result of social pressures or economic hardships.
(formerly, in most European countries) a section of a city in which all Jews were required to live.
any mode of living, working, etc., that results from stereotyping or biased treatment: job ghettos for women; ghettos for the elderly.


pertaining to or characteristic of life in a ghetto or the people who live there: ghetto culture.
Slang: Often Disparaging and Offensive. noting something that is considered to be unrefined, low-class, cheap, or inferior: Her furniture is so ghetto!



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Origin of ghetto

First recorded in 1605–15; from Italian, originally the name of an island near Venice where Jews were forced to reside in the 16th century, from Venetian dialect: literally, “foundry for artillery” (giving the island its name); futher origin uncertain

historical usage of ghetto

In Italian, ghetto “the quarter of a city where Jews were obliged to live,” dates from 1516 when the Venetians set aside an area for Jewish settlement, shut off from the rest of the city and provided with Christian watchmen. The etymology of ghetto is obscure, but several authorities derive it from Venetian dialect ghèto “(iron) foundry” (there was one at the site of the Jewish quarter).
In English, ghetto in its original meaning dates from the early 17th century. By the late 19th century, ghetto had extended its meaning to “a section of a city, especially a thickly populated slum area, inhabited predominantly by members of an ethnic or other minority group.” Israel Zangwill’s novel Children of the Ghetto (published in 1892) is about the life and experiences of East European Jewish children in the East End of London.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for ghetto

British Dictionary definitions for ghetto

/ (ˈɡɛtəʊ) /

noun plural -tos or -toes

sociol a densely populated slum area of a city inhabited by a socially and economically deprived minority
an area in a European city in which Jews were formerly required to live
a group or class of people that is segregated in some way

Word Origin for ghetto

C17: from Italian, perhaps shortened from borghetto, diminutive of borgo settlement outside a walled city; or from the Venetian ghetto the medieval iron-founding district, largely inhabited by Jews
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
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