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The word Yid (/ˈjd/; Yiddish: ייִד‎)[clarification needed] is a Jewish ethnonym of Yiddish origin. It is used as an autonym within the Ashkenazi Jewish community, and also used as slang by European football fans, anti-semites, and others. Its usage may be controversial in modern English language. It is not usually considered offensive when pronounced /ˈjd/ (rhyming with deed), the way Yiddish speakers say it, though some may deem the word offensive nonetheless. When pronounced /ˈjɪd/ (rhyming with did) by non-Jews, it is commonly intended as a pejorative term. It is used as a derogatory epithet by antisemites along with, and as an alternative to, the English word 'Jew'.[1]


A page from Elia Levita's Yiddish language-Hebrew-Latin-German dictionary (16th century) contains a list of nations, including an entry for Jew: Hebrew: יְהוּדִיYiddish: יוּדGerman: Iud Latin: Iudaeus

The term Yid has its origins in the Middle High German word Jüde (the contemporary German word is Jude).

Leo Rosten provides the following etymology:

From the German: Jude: 'Jew.' And 'Jude' is a truncated form of Yehuda, which was the name given to the Jewish Commonwealth in the period of the Second Temple. That name, in turn, was derived from the name of one of Jacob's sons, Yehuda (Judah, in English), whose descendants constituted one of the tribes of Israel and who settled in that portion of Canaan from Jerusalem south to Kadesh-Barnea (50 miles south of Beersheba) and from Jericho westwards to the Mediterranean.[2]


The earliest mention of the word Yid in print was in The Slang Dictionary published by John Camden Hotten in 1874. Hotten noted that "The Jews use these terms very frequently."[1]

It is uncertain when the word began to be used in a pejorative sense by non-Jews, but some believe it started in the 20th century, likely in the 1930s when there was a large population of Jews and Yiddish speakers in East London where Oswald Mosley had a strong following.[3] After World War II, most examples of the word Yid are found in the writing of Jewish authors. These occurrences are usually either attempts to accurately portray antisemitic speech, or as self-deprecating Jewish humor. In his 1968 bestseller The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten offers a number of anecdotes from the "Borscht Belt" to illustrate such usage.[1]

Usage in YiddishEdit

In Yiddish, the word "Yid" Yiddish: ייד‎ is neutral or even complimentary, and in Ashkenazi Yiddish-speaking circles it is frequently used to mean simply "fellow," "chap," "buddy," "mate," etc., with no expressed emphasis on Jewishness (although this may be implied by the intra-Jewish context). Plural is יידן [jidn].

In Yiddish, a polite way to address a fellow Jew whose name one does not know is Reb Yid, meaning "Sir." The Yiddish words yidish or yiddisher (from Middle High German jüdisch) is an adjective derived from the noun Yid, and thus means "Jewish".

Usage in European footballEdit

A number of European clubs, such as Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax have become associated with being Jewish.[4] In the case of Tottenham Hotspur, rival fans chanted antisemitic abuse including 'Yids' against Tottenham fans.[5] In response some Jewish and non-Jewish fans of Tottenham Hotspur F.C. adopted "Yid" (or "Yiddo") as a nickname and "Yiddo, Yiddo!" as a battle cry and often identify themselves as "Yid Army". While such usage remains controversial, the majority of Tottenham fans support its use in a survey and use the word with pride,[6][7] and consider the usage an act of reclaiming the word as a badge of honour, nullifying its derogatory meaning when used by rival fans.[3] Some Jewish Tottenham supporters consciously use it to identify the club as a bastion against racism and antisemitism. Fans of other clubs use the term as a pejorative because of the perception that many Tottenham Hotspur fans are Jewish. This following started in the early 20th century after the First World War when the club was the team of choice for large numbers of Jewish immigrants in North London and the East End of London – those in East London could easily get cheap buses and trams to Tottenham, heading north along the road later designated the A10. East-end Jews have since mostly moved to the North and East London suburbs, Hertfordshire and Essex, but support for Tottenham Hotspur continues for many Jewish families, for example, all three chairmen of Tottenham since 1984 have been Jewish businessmen with prior history of support for the club.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Kim Pearson's Rhetoric of Race by Eric Wolarsky. The College of New Jersey. Archived 2007-08-10 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Leo Rosten: The Joys of Yiddish, 1968. Cited in Kim Pearson's Rhetoric of Race by Eric Wolarsky. The College of New Jersey.
  3. ^ a b "The Y-word: Should Tottenham fans be allowed to use it?". BBC. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  4. ^ Winner, David S. (10 May 2019). "Don't Blame Soccer's 'Jewish' Teams for Anti-Semitism". Foreign Policy.
  5. ^ "UK's Tottenham soccer club defends fans' use of 'Yid Army'". Times of Israel. 27 February 2019.
  6. ^ "JPost | French-language news from Israel, the Middle East & the Jewish World". Retrieved 2013-11-29.
  7. ^ Benedictus, Leo (11 January 2019). "Spurs and Anti-Semitism". London Reviews of Books.
  8. ^ Cloake, Martin; Fisher, Alan (6 October 2016). "Spurs and the Jews: the how, the why and the when". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 30 June 2018.

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