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Gypsy

[jip-see]
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noun, plural Gyp·sies.
  1. a member of a nomadic, Caucasoid people of generally swarthy complexion, who migrated originally from India, settling in various parts of Asia, Europe, and, most recently, North America.
  2. Romany; the language of the Gypsies.
  3. (lowercase) a person held to resemble a gypsy, especially in physical characteristics or in a traditionally ascribed freedom or inclination to move from place to place.
  4. (lowercase) Informal. gypsy cab.
  5. (lowercase) Informal. an independent, usually nonunion trucker, hauler, operator, etc.
  6. (lowercase) Slang. a chorus dancer, especially in the Broadway theater.
  7. (lowercase) gyp1(def 4).
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adjective
  1. of or relating to the Gypsies.
  2. (lowercase) Informal. working independently or without a license: gypsy truckers.
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Also especially British, Gipsy, gipsy.

Origin of Gypsy

1505–15; back formation of gipcyan, aphetic variant of Egyptian, from a belief that Gypsies came originally from Egypt
Related formsgyp·sy·dom, noungyp·sy·esque, gyp·sy·ish, gyp·sy·like, gyp·se·ian, adjectivegyp·sy·hood, noungyp·sy·ism, nounnon-Gyp·sy, noun, plural non-Gyp·sies.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for gypsies

Gypsy

Gipsy

noun plural -sies (sometimes not capital)
    1. a member of a people scattered throughout Europe and North America, who maintain a nomadic way of life in industrialized societies. They migrated from NW India from about the 9th century onwards
    2. (as modifier)a Gypsy fortune-teller
  1. the language of the Gypsies; Romany
  2. a person who looks or behaves like a Gypsy
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Derived FormsGypsydom or Gipsydom, nounGypsyhood or Gipsyhood, nounGypsyish or Gipsyish, adjectiveGypsy-like or Gipsy-like, adjective

Word Origin

C16: from Egyptian, since they were thought to have come originally from Egypt
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 gypsies

Gypsy

also gipsy, c.1600, alteration of gypcian, a worn-down Middle English dialectal form of egypcien "Egyptian," from the supposed origin of these people. As an adjective, from 1620s.

Cognate with Spanish Gitano and close in sense to Turkish and Arabic Kipti "gypsy," literally "Coptic;" but in Middle French they were Bohémien (see bohemian), and in Spanish also Flamenco "from Flanders." "The gipsies seem doomed to be associated with countries with which they have nothing to do" [Weekley]. Zingari, the Italian and German name, is of unknown origin. Romany is from the people's own language, a plural adjective form of rom "man." Gipsy is the prefered spelling in England.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

gypsies in Culture

Gypsies

A nomadic people who originated in the region between India and Iran and who migrated to Europe in the fourteenth or fifteenth century. Most now live in Europe and the United States. Their language is called Romany. Thousands were murdered in the holocaust.

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Note

One who lives a footloose, carefree life is sometimes called a gypsy.
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.