One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A person conceived in a forbidden sexual union, especially as defined by rabbinical tradition.
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in Ninian Winzet (1518–1592), abbot in Regensburg and religious controversialist. Originally from post-classical Latin mamzer from Hebrew mamzēr a person born of an illicit union, such as that between Jew and pagan or between unmarried Jews (in later use probably sometimes independently from Hebrew). Reborrowed in 20th cent. from Hebrew, frequently via Yiddish mamzer bastard, clever person, sponger, thief.
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