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DICTIONARY DEFINITION OF 'JEW'

Last updated: 2003-02-10

The Board of Deputies is pleased that Chambers Publishers has agreed to alter its definition of ‘jew’ in the forthcoming edition of its ‘Official Scrabble Words’.

Board Director General Neville Nagler wrote to Chambers last month after receiving complaints that the definition used to describe the word ‘jew’ was outdated and offensive. It included the meaning, “to cheat or get the better of.”

In reply, the Managing Editor of Chambers, Una McGovern, explained that Chambers dictionaries had to record linguistic facts. She added that the Chambers Dictionary was the most comprehensive English dictionary that they published and included historical as well as modern language and language usage. However she agreed to alter the definition in forthcoming editions of Chambers ‘Official Scrabble Words’ to ‘old offensive word meaning to haggle,’

Neville Nagler commented: “I fully appreciate that the dictionary must include historical language and believe that the proposed new definition is much less offensive. At a time when anti-Semitism is increasing in Europe, it is unhelpful to use definitions which encourage those who wish to espouse hatred towards the Jewish people. We are grateful to Chambers for acknowledging this.”