/get"oh/, n., pl. ghettos, ghettoes.1. a section of a city, esp. a thickly populated slum area, inhabited predominantly by members of an ethnic or other minority group, often as a result of social or economic restrictions, pressures, or hardships.2. (formerly, in most European countries) a section of a city in which all Jews were required to live.3. a section predominantly inhabited by Jews.4. any mode of living, working, etc., that results from stereotyping or biased treatment: job ghettos for women; ghettos for the elderly.[1605-15; < It, orig. the name of an island near Venice where Jews were forced to reside in the 16th century < Venetian, lit., foundry for artillery (giving the island its name), n. deriv. of ghettare to throw < VL *jectare; see JET1]
* * *Formerly, a street or quarter of a city set apart as a legally enforced residential area for Jews.Forced segregation of Jews spread throughout Europe in the 14th–15th centuries. Ghettos were customarily enclosed with walls and gates and kept locked at night and during Christian festivals. Since outward expansion was usually impossible, most ghettos grew upward; congestion, fire hazards, and unsanitary conditions often resulted. Ghettos were abolished in western Europe in the 19th century; those revived by the Nazi Party (see Warsaw Ghetto Uprising) were overcrowded holding places preliminary to extermination. More recently, the term ghetto has been applied to impoverished urban areas exclusively settled by a minority group or groups and perpetuated by economic and social pressures rather than legal and physical measures.
* * *▪ segregated areaformerly a street, or quarter, of a city set apart as a legally enforced residence area for Jews (Jew). One of the earliest forced segregations of Jews was in Muslim Morocco when, in 1280, they were transferred to segregated quarters called millahs. In some Muslim countries, rigid ghetto systems were enforced with restrictions on the sizes of houses and doors. Forced segregation of Jews spread throughout Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries. The ghettos of Frankfurt am Main and the Prague Judenstadt (German: “Jew town”) were renowned. In Poland and Lithuania, Jews were numerous enough to constitute a majority of the population in many cities and towns in which they occupied entire quarters. The name ghetto, probably derived from an iron foundry in the neighbourhood, was first used in Venice in 1516. In that year an area for Jewish settlement was set aside, shut off from the rest of the city, and provided with Christian watchmen. It became a model for ghettos in Italy.Customarily, the ghettos were enclosed with walls and gates and kept locked at night and during church festivals such as Holy Week, when anti-Semitic outbursts were particularly likely because of the alleged guilt of the Jews in the crucifixion of Christ. Inside the ghetto the Jews were autonomous, with their own religious, judicial, charitable, and recreational institutions. Since lateral expansion of the ghetto, as a rule, was impossible, houses tended to be of unusual height, with consequent congestion, fire hazards, and unsanitary conditions. Outside the ghetto, Jews were obliged to wear an identifying badge (usually yellow), and they were in danger of bodily harm and harassment at all times.The ghettos in western Europe were permanently abolished in the course of the 19th century. The last vestige disappeared with the occupation of Rome by the French in 1870. In Russia the Pale of Settlement (see pale), a restrictive area on the western provinces of the empire, lasted until the 1917 Revolution. Ghettos continued in some Islāmic countries, such as Yemen, until the large-scale emigration to Israel in 1948. The ghettos revived by the Nazis (Nazi Party) during World War II were merely overcrowded holding places that served as preliminaries to extermination. The Warsaw ghetto was the foremost example. See also anti-Semitism.More recently, the term ghetto has come to apply to any urban area exclusively settled by a minority group. In the United States, immigrant groups and blacks have been compelled to live in ghettos, not so much by legal devices as by economic and social pressures. The goal of modern legislation has been to dissipate ghettos, but enforcement of the civil rights laws passed in the 1960s is hampered by some of the same social prejudices that brought the first ghettos into being.
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