Definition of ghetto in English:



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

    • ‘The Irish in Australia did not occupy ghettoes, and Irishwomen were particularly likely to marry non-Irish husbands.’
    • ‘The subjects come from a variety of backgrounds, from inner city ghettoes to upmarket suburbs.’
    • ‘Inner city ghettos of the poor are increasingly isolated.’
    • ‘Shantytowns and ghettos across our planet house nearly 4 billion people subsisting on less than $2,000 per year.’
    • ‘In cities in India, as well as in Brazil and other deeply divided countries, quite luxurious enclaves coexist uneasily with slum and ghettos.’
    • ‘Boxers, prize fighters in particular, often emerge from inner-city ghettos with no backing, no education, no money.’
    • ‘It's not poverty, you're not living in the ghetto or slum, but there's a kind of blandness to it.’
    • ‘Indeed, the unemployment rate in these outer city ghettos is four times the national average.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The northern city ghettos were now moving more and more towards militancy.’
    • ‘It's a very pretty island, but some places look like inner city ghettos as you walk down the beach.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Wealthy areas coexisted with black ghettos and Hispanic barrios.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There was anger about the lack of prospects and poor schools, and young people from ethnic minorities felt trapped in ghettos.’
    1. 1.1historical The Jewish quarter in a city:
      ‘the Warsaw Ghetto’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was a Jewish family, and Nathan was born in the Jewish ghetto of Warsaw.’
      • ‘They were sent by train to Lodz in Poland where a Jewish ghetto already existed.’
      • ‘She and her mother were moved into the Jewish ghetto.’
      community, association, commune, settlement, quarter, district, section, ghetto
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 An isolated or segregated group or area:
      ‘the relative security of the gay ghetto’
      • ‘Instead they just settle for a few exterior shots of the gay ghetto in ugly, old downtown Toronto.’
      • ‘Otherwise, we create religious ghettos, segregate children living in religious families from the society, and condemn them to a life in isolation.’
      • ‘Whenever you've got ghettoes of kin groups, you are always going to have compounded emotional problems.’
      • ‘If this neighborhood becomes a student ghetto it won't be fit for students.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Football is being dragged back into a cultural ghetto of being a sport purely for yobs, so called ‘hard men’ and lager louts.’


  • 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.