I recently read a line of chat conversation, where somebody said:

… get jipped by some guy …

A different user construed this as "casual racism", even though the whole conversation was completely unconnected to racial issues. It seems that the problem is the word "jipped" which Wiktionary says is

Probably from the term gypsy (“Roma”), due to a stereotype of the Roma as swindlers.

(emphasis mine).

So I wonder, is this really a politically incorrect word to use? Do speakers and listeners generally connect the word with actual Roma stereotypes? Or is it a rarity to think about its origins, and people generally just use it without thinking of the possible historical etymology, just like people use malaria without ever thinking of bad air?

I heard/read the word for the first time, and did not make a connection to "Gypsy" at all, even though I am European and I am generally aware that "gypsy" is a pejorative racial term.

  • 1
    Gypsy is not, in any way, a pejorative racial term. In fact, it is the term that Gypsies use to describe themselves. Pikey is a racist term.
    – Carl Smith
    Mar 27, 2014 at 21:52
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    Jip, in the UK, generally means to antagonise, as in "He gave the police some jip". It doesn't mean to rip somebody off, so it isn't equivalent to "Jewwed".
    – Carl Smith
    Mar 27, 2014 at 21:54
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    See this article. Also, the word is frequently spelled gypped, which is even more close to the original term.
    – David M
    Mar 28, 2014 at 5:26
  • 1
    Related: english.stackexchange.com/q/182309
    – tchrist
    Sep 8, 2014 at 13:53
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    I've always seen it spelled "gypped" in the US. And the meaning, in the US, is that a minor swindle has occurred, as when the "silver" earrings you were sold turn your ears green.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 12, 2015 at 2:57

5 Answers 5


It's not really possible to answer this question as asked without polling the general population and seeing what the word brings to mind.

Here are some facts:

  1. The word almost surely originated as a racist stereotype
  2. At least some people are aware of #1
  3. Because of #2, the risk of offense is non-zero
  4. There are plenty of synonyms out there (cheated, conned, scammed, duped, et al.)

Therefore, it's easy to avoid the word, and it's advisable unless you aren't really concerned about being seen as an insensitive person.

Also: "political correctness" isn't a studied linguistic concept with a clear-cut definition. It is itself a politically loaded term, in that what many cynically label "political correctness", others would simply call "common decency" or "being inclusive to groups of people unlike oneself".

  • 9
    Yeah, for the most part "political correctness" is now used in complaints by a particularly whiny subset of people who can't tell the difference between being censored and having people think they're jerks, mostly because they've never experienced the former and are constantly experiencing the latter.
    – Jon Hanna
    Feb 7, 2014 at 16:55
  • 1
    "Real writers rewrite to avoid the problem." (Wish I could remember who coined RWRTATP.)
    – keshlam
    Mar 28, 2014 at 5:51
  • @keshlam True. That's why the media have reduced the analogy/metaphor “The pot calling the kettle black,” to “The pot calling the kettle.” So if a story is about a swindler calling another swindler a swindler, the CNN newscaster will say, “That’s like the pot calling the kettle, isn’t it.” Not difficult at all.
    – Zan700
    Jul 28, 2018 at 0:27

Well, I certainly wouldn't recommend you say it to a Roma person unless you were looking for a fight.

I'd be even firmer in recommending you don't say it to a Pavee person, since terms related to Gypsy including Gypsy itself are often used of them, but they often quite reasonably object that this is incorrect. Therefore, using gipped/jipped would combine the insulting insinuation that travelling people are always thieves and con-artists with the plain inaccuracy that they aren't actually Gypsy.

Might be a good idea not to use it near anyone who is Reisende or Yeniche, for similar reasons. Maybe just not say it.

Other than that, yes, I'd think of it as meaning "stealing or conning, much as Gypsies always are", comparable to saying you were "jewed" but taking a different group as its whipping boy.

  • 4
    I’ve met people who think that jipped was actually a euphemism for jewed, but that it got nipped (sorry:) after the Second World War to indicate the low-quality that “Made in Japan” once betokened. Folk etymology can be . . . well, creative may be too favorable a word.
    – tchrist
    Feb 7, 2014 at 16:36
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    @tchrist well, it can indeed used as a euphemism for jewed in that if one is in the company of people who would object to anti-Semitic insults but who won't object to anti-Romani insults, then it would serve as a euphemism in that context. There is a set of (complicated, and mostly factually incorrect) set of associations between the Jewish and Romani people in some imaginations that can add to conflation between the two, as well.
    – Jon Hanna
    Feb 7, 2014 at 16:42
  • I added a comment to the question, so wont repeat it here, but jipped and jewwed have totally different meanings.
    – Carl Smith
    Mar 27, 2014 at 21:57
  • 1
    I am part Romani and the word offends me very much.
    – user135722
    Aug 28, 2015 at 13:14

Definitions for "gyp", "gypsy":

  1. a negative act or characteristic (being stolen from, cheated, over charged, etc.)
  2. a perjorative for a specific group of (minoritized) people in Europe

Background: Originally, it was commonly assumed that "gypsies" came from Egypt. More recent research suggest they came from northern India over 1500 years ago. So, a misnomer -- not unlike referring to indigenous Native Americans as "Indians".

Some thoughts / advice on Racism / the act of "othering" or minoritizing groups of people:

The concern about being "PC" is dismissive, and usually missing the point. If you find yourself saying "I don't know if this is PC to say, but..." the right answer in that moment is to listen to your internal warning there, and just stop talking -- at least until you can learn more / clear-up whatever it is you're unsure about.

"PC" is often used to by folks who feel the need to justify (or otherwise, don't want to 'get in trouble for') their own ignorance or insensitivity by blaming the target of their language for having an 'other' status, or being too sensitive. The reality is that if you're going to be offensive, people will see and feel that, regardless of how you prefix it. Saying "PC" first won't make you sound less ignorant or offensive.

Rationalizations about not intending to offend someone are not all that helpful, because the offended person is reacting to what you 'actually did', not what you 'intended to do'. A car 'actually' runs over your foot, you get hurt, regardless of what the driver intended. If someone is calling attention to what they intended to do for the sake of repairing damage, then it can be more helpful instead to acknowledge what they actually did.

If you really want to understand and engage with this stuff, you can. It's a lot to learn...but it's not difficult. The barrier for a lot of folks is the worry about looking like a bad person, or looking like they don't have all the answers. Truth be told, nobody is going to penalize you if you do nothing, especially if you're part of the dominant culture or group. But if you try to learn more, people will generally see and respect that. It's OK to mess this up -- part of the learning process.

Great question!


I am more along the lines of believing that "Politically incorrect" is an offensive string of words. People need to learn to have a thicker skin and stop letting every little utterance wound them to the quick.

That opinion aside, it was definitely a statement designed to disparage one particular group of people. It has been assimilated so well into the English language for so long that it no longer has any relevance as an actual insult.

  • 11
    Thank you for confirming that this is a statement which started out as a stereotype. But linguistics aside, I believe that it is unethical to prescribe exactly how thick others' skin should be, and to extend to them treatment which would be correct towards the person we want them to be, but not towards the person they really are. So I will abstain from upvoting this answer, even though I generally give an upvote to everybody who takes the time to write an answer to a question of mine.
    – rumtscho
    Mar 27, 2014 at 22:08
  • 1
    @rumtscho - good comment; thought provoking and actually a very kind and wise rebuke. Thanks. Mar 27, 2014 at 22:44

I was told years ago that "JIP" was a television term meaning "joining in progress". By joining a show already in progress (example: a live football game) you had missed a portion of it. You were jipped. Now it is a part of our vernacular. If this is the case, then there is no "casual racism" and political correctness would have nothing to do with it.

  • 1
    This etymology, unfortunately, was made up out of thin air. The word gyp was coined in 1889 or earlier. Television was invented in 1925, and "joining in progress" didn't happen until much later. Sep 8, 2014 at 14:21

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