Definition of ghetto in English:


nounPlural ghettos, Plural ghettoes

  • 1A part of a city, especially a slum area, occupied by a minority group or groups.

    • ‘Old Muslim localities are piles of rubble and ruin with hardly any sign of government help for rejuvenation of Muslim ghettos and slums in urban areas around towns and cities of India.’
    • ‘The slum buildings of the ghetto produce an endless stream of hungry and fearful rats.’
    • ‘The result was riots in black ghettos in East Coast cities.’
    • ‘As well as this lack of opportunity, there seems to be so much violence in the ghettos, in the slums, the project areas, where most of the immigrants have to live.’
    • ‘Wealthy areas coexisted with black ghettos and Hispanic barrios.’
    • ‘We seek a world with no class barriers where you can go to the corporate businessman's mansion without fear of being arrested, or to the inner city ghettos without fear of being robbed.’
    • ‘In cities in India, as well as in Brazil and other deeply divided countries, quite luxurious enclaves coexist uneasily with slum and ghettos.’
    • ‘Hip hop is a music that has been evolved out of the ghettoes of inner cities, whether it's in Jamaica or the United States.’
    • ‘It's a very pretty island, but some places look like inner city ghettos as you walk down the beach.’
    • ‘Indeed, the unemployment rate in these outer city ghettos is four times the national average.’
    • ‘Inner city ghettos of the poor are increasingly isolated.’
    • ‘It's not poverty, you're not living in the ghetto or slum, but there's a kind of blandness to it.’
    • ‘There was anger about the lack of prospects and poor schools, and young people from ethnic minorities felt trapped in ghettos.’
    • ‘I was going to leave my glamorous life behind in this rich and prep place, back to the slums and ghettos of the slowly decaying city in the east.’
    • ‘Boxers, prize fighters in particular, often emerge from inner-city ghettos with no backing, no education, no money.’
    • ‘The subjects come from a variety of backgrounds, from inner city ghettoes to upmarket suburbs.’
    • ‘The Irish in Australia did not occupy ghettoes, and Irishwomen were particularly likely to marry non-Irish husbands.’
    • ‘The northern city ghettos were now moving more and more towards militancy.’
    • ‘Shantytowns and ghettos across our planet house nearly 4 billion people subsisting on less than $2,000 per year.’
    • ‘The only parts of this country which can be broadly described thus are ghettos in inner cities, usually no more than ten per cent of the total population.’
    1. 1.1historical The Jewish quarter in a city.
      ‘the Warsaw Ghetto’
      • ‘It was a Jewish family, and Nathan was born in the Jewish ghetto of Warsaw.’
      • ‘In the Jewish ghetto stands a 15th century house, adorned with a fragment of classical frieze and a stone lion, borrowed from some ruin that had no further use for it.’
      • ‘She and her mother were moved into the Jewish ghetto.’
      • ‘They were sent by train to Lodz in Poland where a Jewish ghetto already existed.’
      • ‘The hardships of life in the Jewish ghettos of Eastern Europe, as well as the political turmoil in those countries, stimulated the ideologically motivated Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel.’
      community, association, commune, settlement, quarter, district, section
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 An isolated or segregated group or area.
      ‘a middle-class ghetto of prosperous professionals’
      • ‘Whenever you've got ghettoes of kin groups, you are always going to have compounded emotional problems.’
      • ‘They have to assert their identities, refuse simplistic discourses, promote critical and self-critical understanding and get out from their intellectual, religious and social ghettos.’
      • ‘Otherwise, we create religious ghettos, segregate children living in religious families from the society, and condemn them to a life in isolation.’
      • ‘Football is being dragged back into a cultural ghetto of being a sport purely for yobs, so called ‘hard men’ and lager louts.’
      • ‘If this neighborhood becomes a student ghetto it won't be fit for students.’
      • ‘Instead they just settle for a few exterior shots of the gay ghetto in ugly, old downtown Toronto.’

verbghettoing, ghettoed, ghettoes

[with object]
  • Put in or restrict to an isolated or segregated area or group.

    • ‘My social life is rather artist - ghettoed, so I enjoy meeting business people.’
    • ‘He flatly rejects the ‘anti-Semitic’ label, ‘Jews were a part of Arab history, not another species to be subjugated and ghettoed.’’


Early 17th century: perhaps from Italian getto ‘foundry’ (because the first ghetto was established in 1516 on the site of a foundry in Venice), or from Italian borghetto, diminutive of borgo ‘borough’.