AskDefine | Define kike

Dictionary Definition

kike n : offensive terms for a Jew [syn: hymie, sheeny]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

Possibly from kikel. (During World War II, Jews immigrating to the Americas would sign papers with a circle instead of an X—the more common practice amongst non-English speaking immigrants.)

Pronunciation

Noun

  1. In the context of "US|highly|_|offensive|racial slur": A Jew.

Synonyms

Translations

Jew

Extensive Definition

For other meanings, see Kike (disambiguation).
In modern English language, the word kike is a pejorative ethnic slur referring to a Jew. In cultures where this word is a given name, it is not considered derogatory.

Etymology

The etymology of the term is uncertain. It may be an alteration of a common ending of the personal names of Eastern European Jews who emigrated to the United States in the early 20th century. The first recorded usage of the term is in 1904.
According to Leo Rosten, In the eyes of many European Jews, a cross was the sign of Christian persecution from which they sought the refuge in the New World. According to Rosten, Jewish American merchants continued to sign with an 'O' instead of an 'X' for several decades, spreading the nickname kike wherever they went as a result. At that time kike was more of an affectionate term, used by Jews to describe other Jews, and only developed into an ethnic slur later on.
In his book How the Irish Invented Slang: the Secret Language of the Crossroads, Daniel Cassidy suggests an alternative etymology. Cassidy notes that the Irish Language word Ciabhóg (pronounced k'i'og) was the general term used by the Irish and Irish-Americans to denote the payot of Orthodox Jews. The Irish word Ciabhóg means side-curl, which is what payot are.
Another etymology is that the term comes from the Greek word for circle, kyklos, and referenced the practice of circumcision.

References

See also

kike in Malay (macrolanguage): Kike
kike in Russian: Жиды (национальное прозвище)
kike in Turkish: Kike
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