Is gypsygirl31 being offensive?

I trust that Kal or someone else with more knowledge than myself will clear this up, but… I was told that I am part “Gypsy.” No mention of Roma, Romani, or any of the other (I don’t even know the proper word to use). Hence, my username.

I was told this by someone in my family who is, unfortunately, no longer living, so I can’t get much more info regarding this part of my heritage. I’ve always liked it, though, and I hope that using the “gypsy” term for myself isn’t offending anyone. But I’d like to make sure.

Woefully ignorant, and trying to remedy that… Thanks in advance.

I don’t think it’s offensive, depending on how it’s used.
If it is, well, I named one of my cats Gypsy, for what it’s worth.

Why on earth would it be offensive? I can see no reason why anyone would have cause to offended. Especially as it is part of your heritage.

It’s a bit like a poster called, say, “JewishMike”, asking if his username is offensive. Not at all.

Well, you’re in good company as there are a few Dopers with Romani blood flowing through their veins.

As to your question: Some Romani people don’t like it and think it’s offensive (along with other regional names given to us by non-Romani people), others don’t mind.

I’m not a fan of the word - regarding it as being akin to Negro, but have no real problem with your username apart from the fact that ‘gypsy’ with a lowercase g drives me bloody nuts.

Also (to confuse you more) you do know that, while all Romani people are ‘Gypsies’, not all ‘Gypsies’ are Romani?

I am somewhat aware, mostly from a previous thread (or posts) of yours. (Can’t identify it better than that, however… it just caught my attention.) My family is hideously ignorant, regarding my origins, so I’m floundering on my own here. Besides doing those horrible ancestry checks (useless, for me, considering all the re-marriages, and relatives I don’t even know), how do I learn more?

And, would it be less offensive if I capitalize the “G”? Or should I just ditch it completely? I must say, I didn’t realize it was along the lines of “Negro.” Yikes.

Yeah, I’ve mentioned other ‘Gypsy’ groups before; Roma, Sinti, Domari and my own group - Romanichal.

A couple of other threads where terms for us came up are:


Something I quoted in both of those threads was from the Patrin:

Now, I think of ‘Gypsy’ as being akin to ‘Negro’ - I can’t speak for anybody else, but regard it as our version of ‘Negro’ because it’s a name that was given to us by others. Also because, here in the UK, it spawned the vile word ‘Gyppo’ - the Romani N-word (along with ‘Pikey’).

I have two main reasons for the lowercase ‘g’ thing:

The first is that ‘Gypsy’ means, well, us lot - while ‘gypsy’ means people who resemble the stereotyped image of Romani people. Therefore, when a police department or newspaper report ‘gypsy crime’, they are not necessary reporting that the criminals are Romani, but that they fit the stereotype (ie: travel around, stealing stuff).

The second is that, while not the correct word, ‘Gypsy’ is a proper noun and to not capitalize it comes across as being insulting.

As to your username, I can’t speak for any other Romani poster, but it does not bother me too much (even after everything I’ve just said). If you want to change it, feel free to do so - but please, not because of any offence that you think I may have taken.

Regarding tracking down Romani ancestry. I think I may have seen a few sites dealing with this, I’ll try to find a couple for you tomorrow. To start with though, I’d recommend that you pay a visit to The Patrin Web Journal

Kushti bok,


If it were offensive, you couldn’t use it on the board…but you have, so must not be offensive, eh?


Yes, I have used it on the board, normally as ‘Gypsy’ - to highlight the fact that it’s ever so slightly incorrect (what with us not being Egyptian) - or as Roma (Gypsy). That said, I do remember using it in two threads in a jokey context and that I put down to new pain meds.

While I don’t like the word, when I post about things to do with Romani people, I accept that ‘Gypsy’ has to be used as most people are not aware of group or tribal names.

I welcome your suggestions as to how - if someone asked what I meant by posting Kalo, Sinti, Domari, Roma, Romanichal, Kuneshti, Kalderasha, Usari, etc - I could explain without using the word Gypsy.

Another thing, handy. Using your logic, I assume that you regard the words “Negro” and “Nigger” as unoffensive too?

After all, you have the United Negro College Fund and rap singers using “Nigger”.

I take back the previous post - I started to get pissed and in doing so put words in handy’s mouth. I apologise for doing that, handy.

Sorry for taking a bit longer than I first said, but here’s some links for you or anybody else who wants to find out about Romani ancestry:

Ethnic-Romani Mailing Lists - hosted at RootsWeb. They have mailing lists for Australian Romani, Austro-Hungarian Romani and British Romani.

Romany & Traveller Family History Society - covers all kinds of travelling people (circus, theatrical and Romani).

I don’t know how useful any of the links will be, but hope they help.

One more, mainly aimed at people with Romani ancestry that live in the US:

The Never-ending Road