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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The term gypsy is a common term used to describe Romani people or Travellers.



The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) states that a gypsy is a

member of a wandering race (by themselves called Romany), of Hindu origin, which first appeared in England about the beginning of the 16th c. (by Hotchkiss) and was then believed to have come from Egypt.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word was first used in English in 1514, with several more uses in the same century, and that both Edmund Spenser and William Shakespeare used the word.[1]

The word Gypsy derives from Egyptian, similarly to the Spanish Gitano or the French Gitan. It emerged in Europe in the 15th century.[2] They received the name "Gypsy" from the local people either because they supposedly came from a land named "Little Egypt", or because some of them fit the European image of dark-skinned Egyptians skilled in witchcraft.[citation needed] On arrival at numerous places in Europe they claimed to be from Egypt, and were required to travel for seven years as penance for apostasy. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the name was written in various ways: Egipcian, Egypcian, 'gypcian.[3] As the time elapsed, the notion of Gypsy evolved including other stereotypes, like nomadism, exoticism.[4] John Matthews in The World Atlas of Divination refer to gypsies as "Wise Women."[5]

English law

Gypsy has several developing and overlapping meanings under English Law. Under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 Gypsies are defined as "persons of nomadic habit of life, whatever their race or origin, but does not include members of an organised group of travelling showmen, or persons engaged in travelling circuses, travelling together as such.",[6] this definition includes such groups as New Age Travellers, as well as Irish Travellers and Romany.[7][8]

Gypsies of Romany origins have been a recognised ethnic group for the purposes of Race Relations Act 1976 since Commission for Racial Equality v Dutton 1989 and Irish Travellers in England and Wales since O'Leary v Allied Domecq 2000 (having already gained recognition in Northern Ireland in 1997).[7][8][9]

Other groups sometimes called gypsies

A number of groups are commonly included under gypsy even though they are not part of the Romani people proper. This is notably the case with the Dom people and the Lom people of the Middle East and Central Asia. These are known as Kowli (کولی) in Iran and Iraq. The Arabic terms Ghajar (غجر),Salab (صلب) and Nawar (نور) distinguish occupations: the Ghajar or Salab are entertainers, while the Nawar are traders; Nawar is also used as a pejorative term to mean vulgar, or low in North Levantine Arabic, and are used as insults (see also Garachi, Lyuli, Zott).

"Travellers" is a wider term for groups of people with a nomadic lifestyle, traditionally including but not restricted to the Romani. The Irish Travellers and Scottish Travellers are often included under the term "gypsies". In Central and Western Europe, the Yeniche are known as gypsies (or Zigeuner and other local equivalents of the term) although they are not considered part of the Romani people.

Similarly, the Indigenous Norwegian Travellers are unrelated to the Romani, not to be confused with the Romani Norwegian and Swedish Travellers.

In India, the Banjara are sometimes dubbed gypsies. Various ethnic groups in South-East Asia are known as "Sea Gypsies". Colloquially, gypsy names also any person perceived as fitting the Gypsy stereotypes (compare Bohemianism).[10]

Gypsy populations


United Kingdom

There is no official figure for the number of Travelling People in the United Kingdom. The Council of Europe overall estimate (in 1987) was between 80,000 - 110,000. Government statistics on 'Gypsy' caravan counts in England can be found on the UK government's website. Such counts do not include 'new' Travellers, Gypsies living in houses (whether temporarily or not) other Travelling People not considered to be 'Gypsies', or Travelling People elsewhere in England. Separate figures collected by local Traveller Education Services (TESs) show many more families and children than do the official counts. Based upon this evidence an OFSTED Report on The Education of Traveling Children (1996) estimated that the number of Travelling children in England was in the region of 50,000.

In 1999 there were 329 public Gypsy sites in England with a total of 5,387 pitches. Whilst there is no official record of the number of private Gypsy sites in the UK, it is estimated that there are approximately 1,200 (lawful and unlawful) in England. The twice yearly Gypsy counts reveal that approximately one third live on sites which lack planning permission and are referred to as 'unauthorised'. Of these about 70% are described as settled (i.e. likely to have been on the site for some time and wishing to stay) and 30% as 'transit' i.e. relatively mobile.[11]

The Welsh Office ceased to undertake the biannual count of caravans in 1997, but a ... piece of research on Traveller Children and Educational Need in Wales (1998) - published by the School of Education at Cardiff University - identified twice as many Travelling children in Wales than did the last governmental counts, at approximately 2,000; and suggests that many more Travelling children (i.e. those currently in housing) are also not included. There are currently around 20 public sites in Wales.[nb 1]

The number of Travelers in Northern Ireland is estimated to be between 1200 and 1300 (or 0.07% of the total population in the area). As with other counts, these figures are assumed to an underestimation due to the mobility of Travelers, the reluctance of some to give full information, and a failure to count many Travelers living in standard housing. At the time of the 1993 census in Northern Ireland, 68% of Travelers were on authorised sites, 30% on unauthorised and 2% on private sites.

According to a survey undertaken by the Traveller Section of the Save the Children Fund (SCF) in Scotland in 1996, there were 35 local authority sites in Scotland provided exclusively for Traveling People with the support of a 100% Scottish Office grant, containing 503 pitches; SCF estimated that there were a further 30 to 40 private sites. SCF also estimate that there are currently between 10 and 15 thousand Traveling People living in Scotland. Estimations as to how many are living in what form of accommodation are in a 2001 Scottish Executive report.

With regard to the demography of Traveling People as collated by various government departments, there have been various criticisms of the count from official agencies and Gypsy representative groups. In particular, there is doubt as to whether the count provides adequate measures of the need for, and provision of sites and concern about the accuracy of the data. Information about Gypsies is also needed for other purposes, not only in the housing field but also for the provision of education and health services.

—Traveller Law Research Unit (2002)[9]




  1. ^ Since the publication of the "Traveling People in the UK: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions" in 2002, the Welsh Assembly Government has resumed the count. The January 2009 Count showed that there were 850 Gypsy and Traveler caravans in Wales.• In total there were 74 sites across Wales, giving an average of 11 caravans per site. Updates on the count are available on the Statistics Wales website under "housing".([citation needed])


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition 1989. "Gipsy, gypsy, n."
  2. ^ Hancock, Ian Romanies
  3. ^ Hancock, Ian We are the Romani people, Univ. Hartfordshire Press, 2002, Fraser Sir A The Gypsies Blackwell, 2nd edition, 1995
  4. ^ Hancock, Ian The ‘Gypsy’ stereotype and the sexualization of Romani women
  5. ^ Green, Marian (1994). "9". in John Matthews. The World Atlas of Divination. London: Headline Book Publishing. pp. 81. ISBN 0747279284. 
  6. ^ Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 (c.62) The UK Statute Law Database
  7. ^ a b Ravi Low-Beer Challenging Gypsy planning policies occasional discussion paper number 1, Traveller Law Research Unit, Cardiff Law School, P O Box 427, Cardiff CF1 1XD, Retrieved 2008-10-09
  8. ^ a b Thomas Acton. Human Rights as a Perspective on Entitlements: The Debate over ‘Gypsy Fairs’ in England, Essex Human Rights Review Vol. 1 No. 1. July 2004, pp. 18-28, ISSN 1756-1957. See footnote 5 page 19 (page 2 of the PDF document)
  9. ^ a b Staff, Travelling People in the UK: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, Traveller Law Research Unit, Cardiff University, (From March 1995 to December 2002). Retrieved 2008-10-09
  10. ^ Hancock, Ian. "P E R S P E C T I V E S The Struggle for the Control of Identity". Roma Participation Program. pp. 1–8. Retrieved 2009-05-11. 
  11. ^ "Travelling People in the UK". Traveller Law Research Unit - Cardiff Law School. 1995 - 2000. Retrieved 8 March 2010. 

See also

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Roma (people) article)

From Wikitravel

This article is a travel topic.

Roma (people) are living mainly in Europe

Roma and Sinti are the largest national minority in Europe. The numbers given vary from 1 to 20 million. They don't have their own country but live in diaspora all over Europe. This page aims at collecting pointers to places where Roma can be met and their culture can be esxperienced.


All over Europe, mainly on the Balkans, in the south of Spain and South of France.



Stolipinovo (Plovdiv)


Saintes Maries de la Mer (Provence)


Skopje/Šuto Orizari


Granada, Jerez, Sevilla


Romanes (Romane, Romani), Kale



Dokumentations und Informationszentrum des Kulturvereins Österreichischer Roma, 1190 Wien, Devrientgasse 1

Muzeum romské kultury, Bratislavská 67, 602 00 Brno, Tel:+420 545 571 798, Mobil:+420 608 972 782

Bremeneckgasse 2 69117 Heidelberg Telefon: (0049)-(0)6221-981102 Telefax: (0049)-(0)6221-981177 E-Mail:


Budapest Gypsy Museum about the history of the Roma (Gypsy) people in Hungary


museo del baile flamenco Sevilla


The Gordon Boswell Romany Museum Spalding, Lincolnshire

  • Romani language course:

Museum of Roma Culture, Brünn

AMBRELA Roma Education and Integration Center, Skopje/Šuto Orizari

Amala Summer School, Valjevo, Serbien

  • Roma dance course:

AMBRELA Roma Education and Integration Center, Skopje/Šuto Orizari, Mazedonien

Amala Summer School, Valjevo, Serbien


Rombase - Didactically edited information about Roma



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also gypsy




Earlier Middle English gipcyan gyptian, < Old French gyptien, short for Egyptian < Latin Aegyptius; when they first appeared in England in the sixteenth century they were believed to have come from Egypt.





Gypsy (plural Gypsies)

  1. A member of the Romani people, or one of it sub-groups (Roma, Sinti, Romanichel, etc). Gypsy is not used by the Romani people themselvs and is considered pejorative by some, especially among the Romani people themselves.
  2. A member of other nomadic peoples, not only Romani people.


Proper noun




  1. (rare) The language of the Romani people; Romani.



Gypsy (not comparable)


not comparable

none (absolute)

  1. Of or belonging to the Romani people or one of it sub-groups (Roma, Sinti, Romanichel, etc). This term is sometimes considered pejorative.
  2. Of or belonging to the Gypsy race (Webster).


See also


Simple English

A Gypsy may be:

  • any member of any nomadic people (nomadic means they do not stay in one place for a long time). Calling one a Gypsy is considered offensive. The groups of people include,

In music:

  • The Gypsy Kings, a musical group of the 1980's that plays a pop-oriented version of traditional flamenco music.
  • Gypsy, a song by Fleetwood Mac.
  • Gypsy, a song by The Moody Blues.
  • Gypsy: A Musical Fable, a musical inspired by the life of Gypsy Rose Lee.

In fiction:

Other meanings:

  • Gypsy, West Virginia, USA
  • Gypsy moth, a destructive insect that causes trees to lose their leaves.
  • Gypsy (software), the first modern document preparation system.
  • Winston "Gypsy" Peters, a Trinidad and Tobago politician and calypsonian
  • A "gypsy" is a part on a boat windlass designed to haul chain. It may have a groove to enable it to haul rope and chain when it is called a combined gypsy and capstan
  • Gypsy is the name of an elephant given to Michael Jackson by Elizabeth Taylor.
  • The J/ψ particle, a subatomic particle.


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