- A derogatory slur for a Jewish person.
- "You should never call a Jew a kike, it is highly offensive and rude."
- "I remember the first time I threw a punch. I was in the lunch line in third grade, and a kid in my class, Will, called me a kike. For those unfamiliar with the term's usage, calling a Jewish person a kike isn't wildly dissimilar from calling a person of African descent the n-word." (http://dailyyiddishkeit.blogspot.com/2008/11/on-being-called-kike.html)
Languages of Origin
Unclear. See note.
Who Uses This
Non-Jews wishing to insult a Jew
The New Joys of Yiddish, by Leo Rosten and Lawrence Bush (New York, 2003).
Less frequent today, this word was a common insult for Jews in the 1920s-1960s. An explanation popularized by Rosten is that "kike" comes from the Yiddish word "kaykl," meaning circle (or marble), because illiterate Jews would sign their name with a circle, rather than an X, which looked like a cross, at Ellis Island. An alternative etymology is that German Jews referred to newly arrived Eastern European immigrants as "kikes" because many of their names ended in "(s)ki," and then the term spread to non-Jews. For a related theory, see Thomas Sowell, Ethnic America, p. 81, and the citation therein. The word may also be influenced by "Ike," an American nickname for Isaac, which was a common Jewish name. Wikipedia offers a more convincing theory: "One more theory traces the origin of the term much earlier in time, to the 16th century Pope Clement VIII, noted for his anti-Jewish stance. Among other things, he issued a prohibition on the study of the Talmud, in which he made reference to the "blind (Latin: caeca) obstinacy" of the Jews. According to this theory, "caeca" developed eventually into "kike"."(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kike). Its usage as an in-group insult has been observed but is quite rare.
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