Recently, there have been instances of new members in the Forum who chose to use the word “Gypsy” as part of their @ username. We were discussing with @MeganB and @TheTravelWitch if this is appropriate.
Please read on and cast your vote below!
This topic concerns us because in many 20th-century New Age traditions the term gypsy has been used as a synonym with “cunning person”. From Wikipedia:
Some legends (particularly from non-Romani peoples) say that certain Romani have passive psychic powers such as empathy, precognition, retrocognition, or psychometry. Other legends include the ability to levitate, travel through astral projection by way of meditation, invoke curses or blessings, conjure or channel spirits, and skill with illusion-casting.
At the same time, the word itself has evolved in other directions which are mostly inoffensive. The following are excerpts from this article: The Grammarphobia Blog: Is ‘Gypsy’ a slur?
On July 4, 2019, a reader of the blog wrote us to say that she is a Roma and considers every use of “gypsy,” ethnic or otherwise, uppercase or lowercase, “a hurtful racial slur.” But on Dec. 22, 2019, another reader wrote us to say that he is Romani and “No true Roma actually care nor do we find the term offensive.”
- Oxford English Dictionary : Nowhere does the OED , an etymological dictionary based on historical evidence, label “Gypsy” as offensive or contemptuous. But many standard dictionaries do have reservations about the term.
- Longman : “Most Gypsies prefer to be called Romanies".
- Collins : “Some Gypsies prefer to be called Romanies.”
- Cambridge : No reservations.
- Macmillan : No reservations.
However, dictionaries tend to follow along the changes in language, and not the other way around.
- Council of Europe : "It is an alien term, linked with negative, paternalistic stereotypes.”
- Gypsy Lore Society : No reservations.
- RomArchive : “Ridiculous stereotype”.
Is “gypsy” an offensive word? What’s your opinion?