Word of the Day Gingi

When much of the population of Israel tends to the 'dark and mysterious' type, anyone else easily stands out - especially the fiery redheads. And like one of the Spice Girls, they're identified with a certain zesty root.

Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova

In American English, people with red hair are called redheads. But Israelis took the British word “ginger” (supposedly from the root vegetable, though it’s never looked particularly reddish to me) and ran with it, calling anyone with reddish hair a “gingi” (JEEN-ji, for a male) or “gingit” (JEEN-jit, for a female).

As with “blondini” (or “blondinit”) to refer to people with blond hair, Israelis are sometimes a little too quick on the draw, rushing to label anyone without a Mediterranean appearance as one of these outliers. Have light brown hair, maybe a few golden or reddish highlights in the sun? In the eyes of many Israelis, there’s a good chance you’re either a blondini or a gingi.

But while many British redheads complain of being taunted for their hair color -- with one of the most extreme cases being a Newcastle family of six that complained several years ago they were forced to move out of two homes because of bullying and abuse over the color of their hair -- the Israeli take on gingi-itis seems to be mostly affectionate, if sometimes intrusive.

After all, the Bible tells us, King David was “admoni” (“reddish” or “ruddy”) and is widely seen as having had red hair (though the description could also be a reference to his complexion). If you’re living in a land where a (possibly) redheaded boy once beat a giant and became king, being a gingi can’t be all that bad.

Prince Harry. Many British redheads complain of being taunted for their hair color.Credit: Bloomberg

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Prime Minister Yair Lapid, this month.

Lapid to Haaretz: ‘I Have Learned to Respect the Left’

“Dubi,” whose full name is secret in keeping with instructions from the Mossad.

The Mossad’s Fateful 48 Hours Before the Yom Kippur War

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer