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ghetto (GET-o) noun

1. Part of a city, typically densely populated and run-down, inhabited by members of an ethnic group or a minority, for social, economic or legal reasons.

2. A situation or environment characterized by isolation, inferior status, bias, restriction, etc.

[From a word for a foundry, to the name of an island, to the place where Jews were forced to live, to its current sense, the word ghetto is a fascinating example of how words come to mean something entirely different as they travel through time. The word originated from Latin jacere (to throw), the root of words such as project, inject, adjective, jet. Venetian getto is the word for a foundry for artillery. As the site of such a foundry, a Venetian island was named Getto. Later when Jews were forced to live there because of persecution, the word became synonymous with cramped quarters, populated by isolated people.]

"He (Vidal Sassoon) came out of a London ghetto to create the swinging hair that every woman had to have in the 60's." Mary Tannen, Message in a Shampoo Bottle, New York Times Magazine, August 18, 2002.

"Anne Frank actually wrote two diaries... Not until she lived in the ghetto house in the closeness of her surroundings and in the locked-up condition did her themes change." Mirjam Pressler, Take Your Childhood And Run, Bookbird (Mansfield, Ohio), Jan 1, 2001.

This week's theme: toponyms, or words derived from names of places.


His mother had often said, When you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action. She had emphasized the corollary of this axiom even more vehemently: when you desired a consequence you had damned well better take the action that would create it. -Lois McMaster Bujold, writer (1949- )

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