ghetto

[ get-oh ]
/ ˈgɛt oʊ /

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 or economic restrictions, pressures, or hardships.
(formerly, in most European countries) a section of a city in which all Jews were required to live.
a section predominantly inhabited by Jews.
any mode of living, working, etc., that results from stereotyping or biased treatment: job ghettos for women; ghettos for the elderly.

adjective

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!

Origin of ghetto

1605–15; < Italian, orig. the name of an island near Venice where Jews were forced to reside in the 16th century < Venetian, literally, foundry for artillery (giving the island its name), noun derivative of ghettare to throw < Vulgar Latin *jectāre; see jet1

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for ghettos

British Dictionary definitions for ghettos

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

Culture definitions for ghettos

ghettos

Originally, areas of medieval cities in which Jews (see also Jews) were compelled to live. Today the term usually refers to sections of American cities inhabited by the poor. (See inner city.)

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.