Oxford English Dictionary updates definition of 'Yid'

Ross Houston
February 18, 2020

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), has actually likewise upgraded the "Y" word to consist of "a supporter of or player for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club".

David Baddiel, a British comedian who is Jewish and has been outspoken in his criticism of Tottenham fans using the "yid" epithet, said its addition to the dictionary will "weirdly give succour to ... the sense that Tottenham fans, rather than Jews, "own" this race-hate word for Jews".

Spurs have frequently been targeted with foul anti-Semitic language yet conversely the words Yid and Yiddo have historically been adopted as badge of honour by sections of Tottenham's own fan base as a way of collectively supporting the team and welcoming new players to the club.

Some Tottenham fans say they have actually "redeemed" using the word from opponent fans, that they really feel generally made use of the term to disrespect fans of the north London club, which has generally had a Jewish complying with.

The dictionary's publisher, The Oxford University Press (OUP), explained in a statement: "We reflect, rather than dictate, how language is used which means we include words which may be considered sensitive and derogatory".

The OED said its decision to include a reference to Tottenham in its definitions was a reflection of the modern-day "usage and development of words in the English language". These are always labelled as such.

The OED, regarded as the leading dictionary of British English, has also added the word "yiddo" to its latest edition, saying its use is "usually derogatory and offensive" but can also mean a Tottenham supporter or player.

Spurs said in their statement that they "have never accommodated the use of the Y-word on any club channels or in club stores".

"We will certainly make sure the context for this link is extremely clear in both interpretations".

Another Jewish Spurs fan, speaking anonymously, told the Guardian he was surprised at the number of Jewish fans coming out against use of the word.

Last year, the club carried out a survey focused on use of the Y-word to which 23,000 fans responded, of which 11% were Jewish.

"The overwhelming majority of fans of the membership, together with those that self-designate as Y-words, should not Jewish", he instructed Sky Information tv, "and due to this fact don't have any proper of 'reclamation'".

Jewish groups have branded the word "antisemitic", whatever the context it is used in.

Organisations working to combat antisemitism condemned some Spurs fans' use of the word, with one saying it was "a badge of shame" for the club.

The CST said the dictionary bore a "special responsibility to ensure that anti-Semitic or otherwise offensive terms are clearly marked as such".

"Ultimately, it is some Spurs fans, not the OED, that have brought this racist term to wider public attention and potential use".

Stephen Pollard, who is editor of the Jewish Chronicle, tweeted: "Not controversial among numerous Jewish Spurs supporters, such as myself, who are proud to be Yiddos". It found that 33% of respondents used the Y-word "regularly" in a footballing context, while 18% who did not use the term in a footballing context considered it offensive, rising to 35% among Jewish respondents.

A spokesman for the Antisemitism Policy Trust said: "This Y-word is now and has always been part of the vocabulary of hate used on the football terraces and elsewhere".

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