Definition of gypsy in English:


(also gipsy)


  • 1

    (also Gypsy)
    A member of a travelling people traditionally living by itinerant trade and fortune telling. Gypsies speak a language (Romany) that is related to Hindi and are believed to have originated in South Asia.

    • ‘He was a political and social activist who devoted twenty years of his life to regaining the rights of gypsies.’
    • ‘Ten percent of the population of the new member states are Roma gypsies.’
    • ‘Presumably, the itinerant musicians and gypsies carried this instrument in their wanderings across the continents of Asia and Europe, giving rise to a variety of instruments that are similar in nature.’
    • ‘Recognizing the traveler the young gypsy dropped down in front of him.’
    • ‘He had a cardiac arrest after speaking at a rally for the gypsy and traveler community.’
    • ‘They were a gift given to him by a traveling gypsy when he visited his father's castle.’
    • ‘As a Briton, I am ashamed of the way we treat gypsies and travellers.’
    • ‘The village was small and away from any other, larger villages or towns, so the only travellers it saw were gypsies and a few wide-ranging traders.’
    • ‘Germans believe that they got this tradition from the gypsies who came from the Indian sub-continent in the days of yore.’
    • ‘Many planners believe the current problems stem from the removal of the statutory duty on county and unitary councils to provide sites for gypsies and travellers.’
    Romany, Rom, chal, chai, gitano, gitana, tzigane, didicoi
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  • 2A nomadic or free-spirited person.

    ‘why should she choose to wander the world with a penniless gypsy like me?’
    • ‘Depending upon the circumstances, a gypsy may retain his nomadic habit of life even though he is not travelling for the time being.’
    • ‘It's why I have no difficulty with Carmen: even if I was not free, I understood her because I have a gypsy, nomadic side.’
    • ‘He felt a certain sense of dread slowly creep over him as he watched her move to sit with another group of the nomadic gypsies.’
    Romany, Rom, chal, chai, gitano, gitana, tzigane, didicoi
    View synonyms


Mid 16th century originally gipcyan, short for Egyptian (because Gypsies were popularly supposed to have come from Egypt).