[ shel-tuh ]
/ ˈʃɛl tə /


a private language, based in part on Irish, used among Travelers in the British Isles.

Origin of Shelta

First recorded in 1875–80; origin uncertain Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shelta

  • This language, or jargon, known as Shelta, has been the subject of much learned writing.

    The Gypsy's Parson|George Hall
  • Me tu sosti, “Thou shalt be (of) me,” is Romany, which is freely used in Shelta.

    The Gypsies|Charles G. Leland
  • Our informant could give only a single specimen of the Shelta literature.

    The Gypsies|Charles G. Leland
  • Shelta is perhaps the last Old British dialect as yet existing which has thus far remained undiscovered.

    The Gypsies|Charles G. Leland

British Dictionary definitions for shelta

/ (ˈʃɛltə) /


a secret language used by some itinerant tinkers in Ireland and parts of Britain, based on systematically altered Gaelic

Word Origin for Shelta

C19: from earlier sheldrū, perhaps an arbitrary alteration of Old Irish bēlre speech
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