(plural) "central and northern European Jews" (as opposed to Sephardim, the Jews of Spain and Portugal), 1839, from Hebrew Ashkenazzim, plural of Ashkenaz, eldest son of Gomer (Genesis x.3), also the name of a nation mentioned in Jeremiah li.27. Perhaps the people-name is akin to Greek skythoi "Scythians" (compare Akkadian ishkuzai), altered by folk etymology. They were identified historically with various peoples; in the Middle Ages especially with the Germans, hence the word came to be used for "Jews of Germany and Poland," who far outnumbered the Sephardim and differed from them in pronunciation of Hebrew and in customs but not in doctrine. Related: Ashkenazic.
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