[linux-elitists] Introducing Myself

Phil Gengler phil@codeallday.com
Sun Jan 11 18:18:21 PST 2004

On Sun, 2004-01-11 at 20:51, Teh Entar-Nick wrote:
> 	Oh boy, I can use teh entar-web too!
> http://www.wordreference.com/english/definition.asp?en-gyp
>    Word
>    Reference
>    .com
>    Source: The Collins English Dictionary © 2000 HarperCollins
>    Publishers:
>    gyp1, gip [dZip]  (slang)
>    verb (gyps, gypping, gypped, gips, gipping, gipped)
>    1  [transitive]  to swindle, cheat, or defraud
>    noun
>    2  an act of cheating
>    3  a person who gyps
>    [ETYMOLOGY: 18th Century: back formation from Gypsy]
> I bet you dictionary.com uses Mirriam-Webster's, which is notorious
> for its racist entries.  I believe the dict folks had to spend a lot
> of time cleaning up the 1913 edition for use in polite society.

I wasn't trying to start a flamewar over this, and sure, it's easy
enough to see even without a dictionary or other source that 'gyp'
likely derived from 'gypsy'.  I had meant to add more to my post, but it
would seem I didn't; the point I was going to make was that no matter
what a dictionary or other source tells us, some words have meanings
with most people that may or may not go along with that in the

As an example, it's not a word thing, but the use of the phrase 'begs
the question' when 'raises the question' is more appropriate is like
that.  Despite the fact that begging the question is a logical fallicy,
and not a transition from one point to another, there are a large number
of people who will use the former construction without so much as a
second thought, because to them, it's the right thing to say.

The same hold here for the use of the word 'gyp'.  To myself, and to
just about everyone I've had occassion to use/hear used the word in a
conversation, it's been implicitly understood to mean 'cheat' or
'defraud', and until you mentioned it as defaming the gypsy culture or
lifestyle (I'm unsure of how to best phrase that) I had never stopped to
consider that there might have been a connection between the two.  Now,
that's just me, and I'm sure more observant people have been noticing
that for just as long as the word has been in use.

The point I'm trying to make here is that most people use the word
without intending to offend anyone (or even knowing that they might
be).  My posting of just the dictionary.com entry was a bit premature,
and for that I apologize.  I just don't feel that using the word 'gyp'
nowadays is taken to be a slander against gypsys.  You may feel
differently, and I'd be perfectly willing to take up a conversation
about it off-list, if you're inclined to continue it.

P.S. As for a M-W racial bias/discrimination, it's not something I was
aware of at the time I cited the definition.  It's definitely something
to keep in mind for the future, though.

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