What is kike?

What is kike?


Kike used it as an insulting and contemptuous term for a Jewish person.

Kike is a very offensive word for a Jewish person.


The word kike was born on Ellis Island when there were Jewish migrants who were also illiterate (or could not use Latin alphabet letters). When asked to sign the entry-forms with the customary "X", the Jewish immigrants would refuse, because they associated an X with the cross of Christianity. Instead, they drew a circle as the signature on the entry-forms. The Yiddish word for "circle" is kikel (pronounced KY - kel), and for "little circle", kikeleh. 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.

First Known Use of kike

Some sources say that the first use was on Ellis Island as a term for Jewish people, others that it was used primarily by Jewish-Americans to put down Jewish immigrants.

In a travel report from 1937 for the German-Jewish publication Der Morgen, Joachim Prinz, writing of the situation of Jewish immigrants in the US, mentions the word as being used by Jews to refer contemptuously to others (Eastern) Jews.

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Md. Saifur Rahman


B.Sc (Honors), M.Sc (Chemistry)

Former Principal of South Point School and College, Dinajpur.

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