‘Jew’, used as a term of address, now tends to be aggressive but was not always so. In literature it occurs from time to time. especially in plays or books like The Merchant of Venice where a Jewish character is important to the plot. Shylock is at first addressed as ‘gentle Jew’ by Antonio, but is ‘Jew’ to Gratiano in the judgement scene. Launcelot addresses Jessica as ‘most sweet Jew’, and there is a similarly friendly use in Love’s Labour’s Lost, where Costard calls Moth ‘my sweet ounce of man’s flesh, my incony [fine] Jew’. In Mordecai Richler’s Joshua Now and Then occurs:
   Greenhorns, you know, new arrivals from the old country, would get off the train with their bundles, scared shitless, and my father would come up to them with this pad in his hand and bark, ‘What’s your name, Jew?’ ‘Bishinsky,’ they’d say, teeth chattering, or ‘Pfeffershnit.’ And he’d holler, ‘You crazy Jews, this is the British fucking Empire and you can’t call yourself by such horseshit names here.’ ‘Jewboy’ is sometimes used of or to a Jewish man or boy in modern times, but this could only be used between intimates who were on friendly-insult terms without giving offence. Richler himself has an example of ‘you filthy Jew’ used as a covert endearment in another of his novels, Cocksure. A wife uses it to her husband, adding ‘Ikey hooky-nose’ for good measure, as he pretends to drag her into their bedroom, but when she accidentally rolls onto him, making him breathless. she immediately switches to ‘darling’. ‘You Jewbastard’ is used by a black American speaker to a Jewish acquaintance in The Tenants, by Bernard Malamud, but without real aggression. The person addressed has just used the word ‘shmuck’, which leads to a discussion of Jewishness.

A dictionary of epithets and terms of address . . 2015.


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  • JEW — (Heb. יְהוּדִי, Yehudi). Semantics The word Jew passed into the English language from the Greek (Ioudaios) by way of the Latin (Judaeus), and is found in early English (from about the year 1000) in a variety of forms: Iudea, Gyu, Giu, Iuu, Iuw,… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • jew — jew; jew·el·er; jew·el·lery; jew·el·ry; jew·ely; jew·ess; jew·ish·ness; jew·ism; jew·ry; jew·el; jew·ish; jew·el·ler; jew·el·ly; jew·ish·ly; …   English syllables

  • Jew — Jew, n. [OF. Juis, pl., F. Juif, L. Judaeus, Gr. ?, fr. ? the country of the Jews, Judea, fr. Heb. Y[e^]h[=u]d[=a]h Judah, son of Jacob. Cf. {Judaic}.] 1. Originally, one belonging to the tribe or kingdom of Judah; after the return from the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • jew — (v.) to cheat, to drive a hard bargain, 1824, from JEW (Cf. Jew) (n.) (Cf. GYP (Cf. gyp), WELSH (Cf. welsh), etc.). The campaign to eliminate it in early 20c. was so successful that people began to avoid the noun and adjective, too, and started… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Jew — (n.) late 12c. (in plural, giwis), from Anglo Fr. iuw, O.Fr. giu, from L. Judaeum (nom. Judaeus), from Gk. Ioudaios, from Aramaic jehudhai (Heb. y hudi) Jew, from Y hudah Judah, lit. celebrated, name of Jacob s fourth son and of the tribe… …   Etymology dictionary

  • jew — [jo͞o] vt. [< JEW, by assoc. with occupation of Jews as moneylenders in Middle Ages] Slang to swindle; cheat; gyp to swindle; cheat; gyp jew someone down to get or bargain for better terms from someone in a business transaction, esp. in a… …   English World dictionary

  • Jew|ry — «JOO ree», noun, plural ries. 1. Jews as a group; Jewish people. 2. Archaic. a district where Jews live; ghetto. 3. Archaic. the land of the Jews: »Alexas did revolt, and went to Jewry On affairs of Antony (Shakespeare). ╂[< Old French juerie… …   Useful english dictionary

  • jew|el — «JOO uhl», noun, verb, eled, el|ing or (especially British) elled, el|ling. –n. 1. a precious stone; gem. 2. a) a valuable ornament to be worn, set with precious stones: »Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop s …   Useful english dictionary

  • Jew — [dʒu:] n [Date: 1100 1200; : Old French; Origin: gyu, from Latin Judaeus, from Greek Ioudaios, from Hebrew Yehudhi, from Yehudhah Judah, Jewish kingdom ] someone whose religion is Judaism, or who is a member of a group whose traditional religion… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Jew — [ dʒu ] noun count * 1. ) a member of the group of people who lived in Israel and believed in Judaism in ancient times, and who now live in many places all over the world, including Israel 2. ) someone who believes in Judaism …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English