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Gyp/gypsy/gipsy/gippy
Posted: 30 August 2018 02:56 PM   [ Ignore ]
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It seems that their etymologies might be related to Egyptian. OED’s entry might be outdated. I also checked Dave’s Big List on gyp, but nothing on the Egyptian derivative. Does anyone have more current information?

OED

Etymology: The early form gipcyan is aphetic for EGYPTIAN n. ( 2); the change to gipsymay be due to influence of the suffix -Y suffix3, or perhaps of Latin Aegyptius. Skelton (a1529) has ‘By Mary Gipcy’, by St. Mary of Egypt.
From the quotations collected for the dictionary, the prevalent spelling of late years appears to have been gipsy. The plural gypsies is not uncommon, but the corresponding form in the singular seems to have been generally avoided, probably because of the awkward appearance of the repetition of y.

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Posted: 30 August 2018 03:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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M-W historical note

In the early years of the 16th century there began to appear in Britain some members of a wandering race of people who were ultimately of Hindu origin and who called themselves and their language Romany. In Britain, however, it was popularly believed that they came from Egypt, so they were called Egipcyans or Egyptians. This was soon shortened to Gipcyan, and by 1600 the further altered form Gipsy, Gypsey, began to appear in print. By later in the 1600s the verb gypsy, meaning “to live like a Gypsy” began to be used.

edit added link

[ Edited: 30 August 2018 03:34 PM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 30 August 2018 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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American Heritage:

Alteration of Middle English gypcian, short for Egipcien, Egyptian (so called because the Romani people were thought to have come from Egypt.

The Middle English Dictionary has this for the etymology of Egipcien and gypcian (this is for the sense relating to Egypt proper, not the Romani):

OF -ien, often replaced by suffix from L -iān-us; cp. OE Egipte the Egyptians.

The Old English word was egyptisc.

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Posted: 31 August 2018 11:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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If I’m not mistaken, aren’t there “Egypt"-based cognates for “Gypsy” in other languages?  For instance, I know that the Greeks say “Γύφτος”.  There seems to be a long-standing and wide-ranging concept that the Romany originally came from Egypt.

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Posted: 31 August 2018 05:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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donkeyhotay - 31 August 2018 11:08 AM

If I’m not mistaken, aren’t there “Egypt"-based cognates for “Gypsy” in other languages?  For instance, I know that the Greeks say “Γύφτος”.  There seems to be a long-standing and wide-ranging concept that the Romany originally came from Egypt.

I don’t think so. The Greek Γύφτος in the Biblical era would have just meant “Egyptians.” The Romaini would have emigrated to Europe about 1500 years ago.

Genetic findings appear to confirm the Romani “came from a single group that left northwestern India about 1,500 years ago.

I have a friend in Honduras who is a Romani. She traces her ancestry to Europe, not Egypt.

If you mean that modern Greeks say “Γύφτος” to mean the Romani, it could mean that the modern Greek language just falls to the same ethnic fallacy.

[ Edited: 31 August 2018 06:05 PM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 01 September 2018 12:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Oecolampadius - 31 August 2018 05:46 PM

donkeyhotay - 31 August 2018 11:08 AM
If I’m not mistaken, aren’t there “Egypt"-based cognates for “Gypsy” in other languages?  For instance, I know that the Greeks say “Γύφτος”.  There seems to be a long-standing and wide-ranging concept that the Romany originally came from Egypt.

I don’t think so. The Greek Γύφτος in the Biblical era would have just meant “Egyptians.” The Romaini would have emigrated to Europe about 1500 years ago.

Genetic findings appear to confirm the Romani “came from a single group that left northwestern India about 1,500 years ago.

I have a friend in Honduras who is a Romani. She traces her ancestry to Europe, not Egypt.

If you mean that modern Greeks say “Γύφτος” to mean the Romani, it could mean that the modern Greek language just falls to the same ethnic fallacy.

The terms ρομά, γύφτος and αθίγγανοι are all in use in modern Greek. αθίγγανοι has roots meaning “untouchable”. (yikes)
It’s also related to the English word antiziganism. It’s related to words such as the Italian zingaro, the German Zigeuner, French tzigane, Russian цыганский etc, all meaning “Romany”.

(The Romany language is itself a Western Indo-Aryan language not too distantly related to Gujarati. Etymonline and other sources say that the name Romany comes from the Romany word rom meaning “man/husband”, which in turn derives from the Sanskrit word domba meaning “male member of a low caste of musicians”.)

The French gitan, Italian gitano are, like gypsy, related to words meaning Egyptian.

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Posted: 01 September 2018 12:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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It could mean that the modern Greek language just falls to the same linguistic fallacy.

I’m pretty sure that’s what donkeyhotay meant. It isn’t a bit surprising that the English should get it into their heads that a dark, exotic people obviously from Far Far Away were from Egypt, because to the vast majority of English people ‘Egypt’ was just a distant exotic name. But it’s odd that the Greeks, who quite apart from all their trading activity round the Eastern Mediterranean had very ancient communities actually in Egypt, should also have believed the Roma came from there.

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Posted: 01 September 2018 04:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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It’s possible the modern Greek name for the Romani comes from or is influenced by English or another European language. They did not necessarily have to think they actually came from Egypt. Romani did not enter English use until 1800, and there early uses are in glosses and lexicons, while gypsy dates to the early 16th century. It seems likely to me that the Greeks would have called the group by the name common in Europe, not by the group’s own name, which was obscure to outsiders. But someone better versed in the history of Greek could answer the question better.

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Posted: 01 September 2018 10:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Two sources on the etymology for “Gypsy”.

The Dutch and German word for “Gypsy” is ‘zigeuner,’ in German the nouns has the first letter capitalized. Both Turkish and Greek are responsible for the word ‘Zigeuner.” From the Greek, it was “cigano” and “zingari,’ meaning ‘untouchable. ‘

Paradise …! From East to West Volume One

The translation of the pejorative ascribed term Tsigan in different languages is as follows: French Tsigane; Albanian Cigan, Maxhup, Gabel; Bulgarian; Tsigani; Czech Cikáni; Duch and German Zigeuner; Danish Sigøjner; Lithuanian Čigonai; Russian Tsyganye; Hungarian Cigány, Greek Tsingávoi; Italian Zingari; Romanian Tsigani; Croatia and Serbia Cigani; Polish Cyganie; Portughese Cigano; Spanish Gitano and in Turkish Çingene. In Iran they are referred to as Kowli, in India as Lambani, Lambadi, or RabariRoma is the self-ascribed term by the majority of the groups generally ascribed as Tsigani by the majority populations.

Roma in Europe
The Politics of Collective Identity Formation

NB. In the above quote I was only able to transcribe the anglicized versions for Russian and Greek.

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Posted: 02 September 2018 12:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Interesting that the first two OED cites for gypsy are for “people calling themselves Egyptians”.

1537 T. Cromwell Let. 5 Dec. in R. B. Merriman Life & Lett. T. Cromwell (1902) II. 106 The Kinges Maiestie aboute a twelfmoneth past gave a pardonne to a company of lewde personnes within this Realme calling themselves Gipcyans for a most Shamfull and detestable murder.
1538 [implied in: A. Fitzherbert Newe Bk. Justyces Peas 98 b It is ordayned agaynste people callynge themselves Egypcyans, that no such persons be suffred to come within this realme. (at Egyptian n. 2)].

Of course, it is possible that the authors misunderstood the situation.

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Posted: 02 September 2018 05:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I wouldn’t trust the Paradise book. That’s a self-published e-book and appears to be musings by the author rather than solid research. It’s the equivalent of quoting something found on a random website.

The Roma in Europe book, however, is published by Routledge, a reputable academic publisher, but it’s a sociological rather than a linguistic study, and often works from other scholarly fields that dip into historical linguistics get it very wrong—which appears to be the case here; if not wrong exactly, then confusing and not helpful. The paragraphs discussing the topic of names are something of a mess, poorly organized, jumping back and forth between topics, and not providing complete information. The passage quoted above does not indicate that these are the exclusive or even the primary terms used in those societies. And it also mixes up etymologies: the Spanish gitano is, according to this book, “a fifteenth century Spanish translation of the word Egyptian.” The book mentions the term hashkalija that is used in the former Yugoslavia. But it fails to mention whether it’s an ascribed or self-ascribed term, and while it says that people in the region believe they come from Egypt, but doesn’t discuss the etymology or literal meaning of the word. All in all, I don’t find this book all that useful for this particular question. (Although it may be excellent in other respects; I’m not in a position to judge those.)

The full citation is Bunescu, Ioana. Roma in Europe: The Politics of Collective Identity Formation. Routledge, 2013.

Also, the fact that a society uses a label that means “untouchable” doesn’t preclude the belief that the people come from Egypt. Both can exist at the same time.

Bunescu’s book says that some Roma groups do hold the belief that they come from Egypt, so those early English citations in the OED may not be wrong in that the Roma could have called themselves Egyptians. (Regardless, always take with a grain of salt any claimed etymology given in an early citation.)

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Posted: 02 September 2018 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Dave Wilton - 02 September 2018 05:50 AM

I wouldn’t trust the Paradise book. That’s a self-published e-book and appears to be musings by the author rather than solid research. It’s the equivalent of quoting something found on a random website.

The Roma in Europe book, however, is published by Routledge, a reputable academic publisher, but it’s a sociological rather than a linguistic study, and often works from other scholarly fields that dip into historical linguistics get it very wrong—which appears to be the case here; if not wrong exactly, then confusing and not helpful. The paragraphs discussing the topic of names are something of a mess, poorly organized, jumping back and forth between topics, and not providing complete information. The passage quoted above does not indicate that these are the exclusive or even the primary terms used in those societies. And it also mixes up etymologies: the Spanish gitano is, according to this book, “a fifteenth century Spanish translation of the word Egyptian.” The book mentions the term hashkalija that is used in the former Yugoslavia. But it fails to mention whether it’s an ascribed or self-ascribed term, and while it says that people in the region believe they come from Egypt, but doesn’t discuss the etymology or literal meaning of the word. All in all, I don’t find this book all that useful for this particular question. (Although it may be excellent in other respects; I’m not in a position to judge those.)

The full citation is Bunescu, Ioana. Roma in Europe: The Politics of Collective Identity Formation. Routledge, 2013.

Also, the fact that a society uses a label that means “untouchable” doesn’t preclude the belief that the people come from Egypt. Both can exist at the same time.

Bunescu’s book says that some Roma groups do hold the belief that they come from Egypt, so those early English citations in the OED may not be wrong in that the Roma could have called themselves Egyptians. (Regardless, always take with a grain of salt any claimed etymology given in an early citation.)

I agree about the Paradise book. But did the English word Gypsy ultimately derive from the Greek Tsingávoi? Thank you for all the information.

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Posted: 02 September 2018 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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But did the English word Gypsy ultimately derive from the Greek Tsingávoi? Thank you for all the information.

No. Gypsy is a shortening of Egyptian, which comes ultimately from Latin. The Latin ægyptius may come from the Greek; I don’t know. But it is etymologically unrelated to τσιγγάνος, which means untouchable.

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Posted: 02 September 2018 06:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Dave Wilton - 02 September 2018 10:57 AM

But did the English word Gypsy ultimately derive from the Greek Tsingávoi? Thank you for all the information.

No. Gypsy is a shortening of Egyptian, which comes ultimately from Latin. The Latin ægyptius may come from the Greek; I don’t know. But it is etymologically unrelated to τσιγγάνος, which means untouchable.

Thanks again.

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Posted: 03 September 2018 04:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Logophile - 02 September 2018 06:09 PM

But it is etymologically unrelated to τσιγγάνος, which means untouchable.

No, it doesn’t. It means gypsy. It may derive from Ἀθίγγανοι, a name of an obscure religious sect, and that name itself may have originally meant ‘untouchable’. But frankly it seems rather unlikely to me.

Furthermore, the word would be transliterated into English as Tsinganoi, not Tsigavoi. The letter you appear not to recognise is a nu.

[ Edited: 03 September 2018 04:45 AM by kurwamac ]
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Posted: 03 September 2018 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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No, it doesn’t. It means gypsy. It may derive from Ἀθίγγανοι, a name of an obscure religious sect, and that name itself may have originally meant ‘untouchable’. But frankly it seems rather unlikely to me.

If you’re directing this assertion to me I was not the one who submitted that claim, Dave was the one.

Furthermore, the word would be transliterated into English as Tsinganoi, not Tsigavoi. The letter you appear not to recognise is a nu.

Not according to the source I quoted.

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