Originally the word 'ghetto' meant the Jewish quarter of Venice, and later of any European town. Many places had a ghetto. The term "ghetto" is now commonly used to refer to any poverty-stricken urban area with a concentration of minority groups. The word has a few possible sources:
- "getto", the Venetian word for foundry slag, because the Jews were only allowed in the area where the iron foundries were.
- Others believe it is from the Italian word borghetto, meaning a little borgo or ‘borough’.
It is also used to refer to areas that are considered to be undesirable.