The English term Gypsy come from the Greek word for “Egyptian”, in the belief that the Romanies, or some other Gypsy groups (such as the Balkan Egyptians), originated in Egypt. In one narrative the Gypsy were exiled as punishment for allegedly harbouring the infant Jesus. This exonym is sometimes written with capital letter, to show that it designates an ethnic group. The term ‘gypsy’ appears when international research programmes, documents and policies on the community are referred to. The term ‘gypsy’ is considered derogatory by many members of the Roma community because of negative and stereotypical associations with the term.
In North America, the word gypsy is commonly used as a reference to lifestyle or fashion, and not to the Romani ethnicity. The Gypsy have faced many cruelties in the past. During World War II, the Nazis and the Ustaša embarked on a systematic attempt at genocide of the Romanies, a process known in Romani as the Porajmos. Romanies were marked for extermination and sentenced to forced labor and imprisonment in concentration camps.