Search: ghetto etymology
Why: Elvis Presley's lovely "In the Ghetto" just came on my iPod Genius Mix - which, by the way, started with some Bright Eyes song that I accidentally clicked, later played "Fembot" by Robyn, and is now playing a live version of "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard."
Anyway, despite "In the Ghetto" being about poor folk in Chicago, I know ghettos were originally areas of concentrated Jewish population in Italy.
Answer: Nobody knows! It's mainly Italian. Theories of origin.
- Yiddish get, "deed of separation" (like what you have to get [get!] for a Jewish divorce)
- Venetian getto, "foundry" - there was one near the site of that city's ghetto in 1516)
- Egitto "Egypt," from L. Aegyptus (presumably in memory of the exile)
- Italian borghetto, "small section of a town" (borough + ghetto)
- Venetian ghetor or ghet, "slag" - not the slag you're thinking of, but "a partially vitreous by-product of smelting ore to separate the metal fraction from the unwanted fraction"
The More You Know: Maybe you would like to hear Elvis's dynamite rendition of "Always on My Mind" (though I still prefer the one by Pet Shop Boys):