Dictionary includes Spurs fans in Yid definition

Dictionary includes Spurs fans in Yid definition

Fans at White Hart Lane

Image copyright
Reuters

The Oxford English Dictionary has changed its definition of the word Yid to include a “supporter of or player for Tottenham Hotspur”.

The word has frequently been used against Jewish people as an offensive term but over the years has been appropriated by Spurs fans.

Spurs have a strong Jewish following and have been targeted with anti-Semitic abuse by opposing fans.

The club has labelled the new definition as “misleading”.

A Spurs spokesman said the club has maintained that “our fans (both Jewish and gentile) have never used the term with any intent to cause offence”, and said the OED failed to distinguish the contexts in which the term is and is not offensive.

But Jewish groups said the OED must make clear the word is a “term of abuse”.

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.

It says the word “Yid” is offensive when used by non-Jewish people to refer to Jews, and when used to refer to Spurs fans or players, it says the word is “frequently derogatory and offensive” – but is also used by fans to refer to themselves.

The words come from the Yiddish term for Jew but are thought to have been taken up as an insult during the 20th Century, particularly during the time of Oswald Moseley’s fascist movement in Britain in the 1930s.

Chants of “Yids”, “Yid Army” and “yiddos” are frequently heard in the home stands at White Hart Lane, with some Spurs fans saying they have reclaimed the word.

But Jewish groups have condemned the way it has been used, saying the word “must not be tolerated” by the club.

The OED said it takes a historical approach, meaning it records the usage and development of words rather than prescribing how they are used.

“We reflect, rather than dictate, how language is used which means we include words which may be considered sensitive and derogatory. These are always labelled as such,” it said, in a statement.

The OED said the reference to Tottenham reflected the evidence that the club was associated with the Jewish community and that the term was used as a “self-designation” by some fans.

It said the entry for “yiddo” was marked as “offensive and derogatory” and it would ensure the context was made clear in both definitions.

‘Malicious anti-Semitic overtones’

Prominent Jewish football fans including David Baddiel and groups such as the Community Security Trust (CST), which monitors anti-Semitic abuse, have called on Spurs to stop using the words in chants.

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

Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, which represents many British Jewish community groups, said: “This is a term of abuse with malicious anti-Semitic overtones.

“If the OED wishes to include such an expression it must make it abundantly clear that this is a despicable term of abuse.”

Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard said the word was “not controversial among many of the Jewish Spurs supporters, such as myself, who are proud to be Yiddos”.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The “Y-word” is not used on official merchandise, but has been adopted unofficially by fans

But rival fans also asked on social media if the definition meant it was acceptable for other teams to use the word or whether it was no longer considered racist.

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

In December, the club released the results of a survey on the word, with more than 23,000 responses.

Nearly half of respondents wanted fans to abandon the chant or use it less, with 94% acknowledging it could be considered a racist term against a Jewish person.

But 33% of of respondents said they used the word “regularly” in a football context, while 12% also used it outside of football.



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