Non-technical terminology as it appears on Romagraphic.

  • Romani

A widely dispersed ethnic group of an uncertain population, living primarily in Europe. Diverse in culture, language and religion all Romani groups share a common ancestral group who migrated from the north-western Indian subcontinent 1500 years ago. Commonly known by the English exonym Gypsy.

The Romani are known primarily for their traditionally nomadic lifestyle caused by centuries of exploiting economic opportunity and persecution.

The Romani were adversely effects by the Holocaust, Porajmos, during WW2 with up to 1.5 million being put to death in Nazi Germany and their allies. The Romani remain today the world’s most persecuted minority (U.N. Special Rapporteur on Racism).

Romany, most common in the UK for the indigenous British Romani population.

Romanichal, a Romani term for a specific sub-group of Romani (Romany) people in the UK (& America). Meaning child of the Romani. It is not commonly used to identify oneself, but instead used by European Roma to refer to the Romanichal sub-group.

Roma, a primarily European subgroup of the Romani, in the UK it is the term most commonly used to refer to all European Romani (excluding British Romany Gypsies)

  • Gypsy

Corruption of Egyptian. A commonly used English exonym for the Romani people, brought about by the incorrect belief that all Romani once hailed from Egypt. It can be seen as being politically loaded.

It is the name by which the British government identifies “persons of nomadic habit of life whatever their race or origin, including such persons who on grounds only of their own or their family’s or dependants’ educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently, but excluding members of an organised group of travelling show people or circus people travelling together as such.’

It is also the name most commonly used by Travelling people. Typically referring primarily to Romani Travellers, it has in recent years gained popularity amongst Irish Travellers and travellers of other backgrounds.

However,  the suitability of the use of the word Gypsy is becoming ever increasingly debated by people within the Romani and Traveller community due to the negative impact of the word causing genuine harm to individuals and families ‘branded’ by the name. It is often cited as a major factor in preventing the Romani from reaching equality amongst the ‘settled’ community.

  • Gadje

Gadze, Gargio, Garjo

A Romani/Romanes term meaning a ‘non-romani’.

It is *not* a disparaging or racist term. It can however be used disparagingly in certain contexts ‘you stupid gadje’ for example it is the equivalent of saying ‘you stupid American’ ‘you stupid Englishman’. These are not nice things to be saying however it’s not the use of Gadje that is disparaging but the manner in which it is said. Gadje is just a Romani term for people  who are not Romani. It is is part of the Romani way of identifying with the world. For more information on my feelings on the matter please read: I do not call people Gadze as a general rule (this link will take you to a tumblr post).

  • Marima

Impurity. A reference to things considers dirty or impure either from both a physical and cultural standpoint. Can occasionally refer to the culture law on purity – applies to how food should be prepared, washing should be done etc.etc. keeping mind and body clean and healthy.


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