Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a Jew.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A Jew.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A derogatory name for a jew, usually intended and taken as disparaging and offensive.
  • v. To kick.
  • intransitive v. To gaze; to stare.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • An obsolete form of kick. Chaucer.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (ethnic slur) offensive term for a Jew

Etymologies

Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Possibly from Yiddish קײַקל (kaykl, "circle"). (In the early 20th century, Jews immigrating to the Americas would sign papers with a circle instead of an X, the latter being the more common practice amongst non-English speaking immigrants.) (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • According to Leo Rosten,
    “ The word kike was born on Ellis Island when Jewish immigrants who were illiterate (or could not use Roman-English letters), when asked to sign the entry-forms with the customary 'X,'* refused, because they associated an X with the cross of Christianity, and instead made a circle. The Yiddish word for 'circle' is kikel (pronounced KY-kul), and for 'little circle,' kikeleh (pronounced ky-kul-uh. Before long the immigration inspectors were calling anyone who signed with an 'O' instead of an 'X' a kikel or kikeleh or kikee or, finally and succinctly, kike.3

    From Google Mack Kelly

    April 9, 2009

  • Somewhere in the past, I learned that KIKEL was an emigration notation for Jews leaving the ship. Somebody with more research ability than I can confirm. Kikel may be of Yiddish origin. You might check the Dictionary of American Slang.

    April 9, 2009