- In this dictionary, Gypsy is used as a synonym for Romany except in articles on the Middle East and Asia. There the term applies to industrial nomads (peripatetics), mainly of Indian origin. The word is derived from "Egyptian" because, when the Romanies first came to western Europe, it was wrongly thought they had come from Egypt. Alternatively, some authors suggest that the name may come from a place called Gyppe in Greece. Early English laws and authors such as William Shakespeare used Egyptian (e.g., in the play Othello). The Spanish word gitano and the French gitan are of the same derivation.Gypsy is not a Gypsy word, and there is no single word for Gypsy in all Romani dialects. Rom (plural Rom or Roma) is a noun meaning "a man belonging to our ethnic group" but not all Gypsies call themselves Roma. The Sinti, the Manouche, and the Kaale of Finland use the word Rom only in the meaning of "husband." There is, on the other hand, a universal word for non-Gypsy, Gajo.In the western European image of a Gypsy, the idea of nomadism and self-employment is predominant. So we find, for example, a site on the World Wide Web proclaiming: "We are Cyber Gypsies - we roam the Net." A leading tennis player or international footballer is described in the media as leading a "Gypsy way of life." In eastern Europe, on the other hand, nomadism is not seen as a fundamental meaning of the equivalent of the word Gypsy (usually Tsigan) in eastern European languages. We find other paradoxes in their stereotype, with the Gypsies considered lazy but also as taking on the dirtiest work, foolish and at the same time cunning.In British planning law (cf. Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's Department Circular 1/2006), the term Gypsy does not apply to an ethnic group but rather to anyone traveling or who has traveled in a caravan for an economic purpose. With regard to race relations legislation, however, Gypsy is considered to be a synonym for the ethnic term Romany.
Historical dictionary of the Gypsies . Donald Kenrick.