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I have heard teenagers use the word "ghetto" as an adjective to mean something like "unacceptably substandard" or "pitifully poor quality" or even, "thoroughly unstylish". Perhaps someone in that generation can help out with a more precise definition and some examples of typical locutions. —This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 21:24, 9 March 2007‎ (UTC).

Ghetto has evolved into slang. Its slang meaning could possibly be: Very poor quality; lacking; disappointingly and unacceptably substandard; shabby —This unsigned comment was added by Bowty94 (talkcontribs) 00:27, 14 December 2009‎ (UTC).

Well I'd use it to mean poor neighborhoods or "projects"; "poor/crap quality"; or improvised, jury-rigged, or home-made (usually with extremely cheap or sub-standard components). (I got this last part of the sentence from Urban Dictionary, but I'd use it like that too, although I don't really use the word ghetto anyways). Ghetto is also the term for "talking black". I think nowadays, the word ghetto is closely related to urban, poor, blacks, etc. Here are some examples from Urban Dictionary: John lives in the ghetto (this one is for the poor neighborhoods/projects/slums), "Why you always be talkin' ghetto? Get yo'self a propa' e-ju-ma-kay-shun, kid!" (this one is talking black and it also makes fun of the usage itself), and Jane hid her head in embarrassment as her mom shamelessly committed the ghetto act of stuffing the restaurant's bread rolls, sugar packets, and silverware in her purse (this one is relating to the poor, no class notion of the term). Man, why you gotta be actin all ghetto? (this one means acting black). Acting black isn't really a bad thing - it's more like trying to act cool or gangster or something. Sorry about the bad formatting. - M0rphzone (talk) 01:33, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
I think the etymology is from the 3rd definition of "ghetto" meaning poor neighborhood or slums (and according to Wiktionary entry a ghetto is a district where members of an ethnic, religious or cultural minority are congregated). I think people didn't really know the definition for ghetto so they associated the term with the poor condition of the ghettos where the Jews or blacks lived (which gave rise to the 3rd definition for ghetto), which then became a general noun/adjective used to describe things in poor condition or quality. (The word "poor" also has a similar type of definition associated with the surroundings. Poor people or people without much money generally live in "poor" neighborhoods or low quality places/bad conditions). - M0rphzone (talk) 01:33, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
Also, the term is very much related to blacks in general (not saying that's a good thing) in either their culture, language, ideologies, mannerisms, etc. Here's a quote from Steve Harvey that I stumbled upon: "Eminem has lost his ghetto pass. We want the pass back." See the citations page for more info. - M0rphzone (talk) 06:27, 19 April 2012 (UTC)


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The following discussion has been moved from Wiktionary:Requests for verification.

This discussion is no longer live and is left here as an archive. Please do not modify this conversation, though feel free to discuss its conclusions.

Rfv-sense: Two of the three existing senses need citations to enable us to defend the definitions less arbitrarily. I also suspect that the sense of the noun has shifted a bit under the influence of the adjective, the senses of which are also uncited. DCDuring TALK 15:47, 26 September 2012 (UTC)

I've actually never heard of the other noun sense "The district in a city where Jews were compelled to confine themselves." I assume other users have heard of this, right? Mglovesfun (talk) 15:53, 26 September 2012 (UTC)
Only in therms of the original Ghetto in Venice. SemperBlotto (talk) 15:55, 26 September 2012 (UTC)
And the Warsaw Ghetto. And all the Jewish ghettos in Europe, especially the ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe. —Angr 16:12, 26 September 2012 (UTC)
By way of comparison, I got my 1998 New Oxford Dictionary of English out, it combines our senses #2 and #3 and lists our first sense second. It also has a verb 'to ghetto' but no adjectival senses. Our adjectival senses may be real, or just the noun used attributively. "Very ghetto" sound instinctively correct to me. Mglovesfun (talk) 16:27, 26 September 2012 (UTC)
Our first sense seems historical to me, though the history ran through WWII.
Though I don't live in the 'hood, much of my city is the 'hood. The adjective is in widespread use (with "very", "too" and other degree adverbs, as comparative and as predicate) and rich in meaning. There is now an abundant black-authored, black-themed fiction, with dialog, from which one can draw citations of specific contemporary senses for the adjective as well as the noun. DCDuring TALK 17:41, 26 September 2012 (UTC)
1998 New Oxford Dictionary of English marks that sense as historical, yes. Mglovesfun (talk) 17:43, 26 September 2012 (UTC)
"Very ghetto" sounds OK to me, as does the "so ghetto (that)" construction of the usage example, but only for adjective sense 2; adjective sense 1 may well only be the attributive use of the noun. I agree that sense 1 of the noun is {{historical}}, but I think we should keep senses 2 and 3 separate (but probably reverse their order, as I think sense 2 developed out of sense 3) because the "economically depressed" part of sense 3 is important and is the reason for the meaning of (sense 2 of) the adjective. Another example of sense 2 is "graduate student ghetto", which I've found attested here, here, and here. —Angr 17:56, 26 September 2012 (UTC)
Our definition one contrasts with definition two, not only in the broadening of the range of inhabitants, but also by contrasting "compelled to confine themselves" with "voluntarily". Some would say that there are "iron laws of economics" that make the word voluntarily inappropriate. We probably need to eliminate the word "voluntarily" from the second.
Also, though a 'real' Jewish ghetto had rigid boundaries enforced by law, some areas called ghettos (now? then?) did not, being more Jewish Quarters, more like the modern sense of ghetto. Overcrowding would be a consequence or rigid boundaries. Poverty might be a result of economic restrictions. The phrase "compelled to confine themselves" seems curiously worded. The "confinement" applied to residence at least, possibly real property ownership, certain travel, and possibly to other things and differed by jurisdiction. We shouldn't imply more (or less) than usage compels use to.
We seem to have been bending over backwards to come up with acceptable wording without the benefit of citations. DCDuring TALK 19:07, 26 September 2012 (UTC)
Well, are #2 and #3 distinct, if so how? If we merge them, finding three citation is going to be really, really easy. Mglovesfun (talk) 09:47, 27 September 2012 (UTC)
I think #2 and #3 are distinct only #3 needs to be modified as it is not necessarily one ethnic or religious group. Personally, I have never heard the #2 but I can imagine it does exist. --WikiTiki89 (talk) 11:33, 27 September 2012 (UTC)
It would be a step backwards to reduce the number of definitions. It is a bad practice to do so merely to simplify the process of getting citations. Other dictionaries (excluding learners' dictionaries) have 2-4 senses. The ones with 2 omit the historical sense.
In a case like this where our definitions have no citations supporting them we are almost starting with a clean slate, except for our defensiveness.
In such a condition, we should first scan other "unabridged" dictionaries' definitions, identify any apparent inadequacies (such as being euphemistic in some way), get some citations to support any elements likely to be questioned, and make adjustments based on usage found, especially for recent or obsolete usage. This is not a mere counsel of perfection. A true counsel of perfection would start with citations. The combined process can be done fairly expeditiously. DCDuring TALK 13:37, 27 September 2012 (UTC)
We're missing the verb "ghetto". Anyway, I'm going to round up some citations for us to work with. - -sche (discuss) 06:47, 18 October 2012 (UTC)
I've put a first pass of citations here, but that is by no means exhaustive. It doesn't even try to be exhaustive: I'll probably get around to the pre-1930s Jewish sense later. I also found a lot of citations of the verb "self-ghetto". I do think our noun senses need to be overhauled. - -sche (discuss) 08:22, 18 October 2012 (UTC)
I have added another grab-bag-full of citations to the citations page, sorted them, and overhauled the entry in accordance with the meanings I found in the literature. What do you think? - -sche (discuss) 18:05, 18 October 2012 (UTC)
The definitions are clear and precise and the citations support them. The noun definitions are also a bit wordy. The association of the word with urban crowding and poverty merits some kind of mention, which would make them even wordier. "Urban crowding" might be introduced in the first sense and poverty in the second as poverty replaced legal coercion for that grouping. The third sense could include both crowding and relative poverty as "especiallies". I don't really know how to make them less wordy without losing something significant. What would we consider the most encyclopedic elements, those that go beyond what normal users intend to convey? DCDuring TALK 19:10, 18 October 2012 (UTC)
I've trimmed the definitions and added a nod to poverty, which you astutely note is an important part of the definition. Please improve the definitions further as needed (particularly regarding crowding). - -sche (discuss) 05:54, 21 October 2012 (UTC)