"Jewish woman," late 14c. (late 13c. as a surname), from Old French juise, fem. of jüif (see Jew).
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late 12c., Giw, Jeu, "a Jew (ancient or modern), one of the Jewish race or religion," from Anglo-French iuw, Old French giu (Modern French Juif), from Latin Iudaeum (nominative Iudaeus), from Greek Ioudaios, from Aramaic (Semitic) jehudhai (Hebrew y'hudi) "a Jew," from Y'hudah "Judah," literally "celebrated," name of Jacob's fourth son and of the tribe descended from him.
Spelling with J- predominated from 16c. Replaced Old English Iudeas "the Jews," which is from Latin. As an offensive and opprobrious term, "person who seeks gain by sordid means," c. 1600. Jews' harp "simple mouth harp" is from 1580s, earlier Jews' trump (1540s); the connection with Jewishness is obscure, unless it is somehow biblical.
In uneducated times, inexplicable ancient artifacts were credited to Jews, based on the biblical chronology of history: such as Jews' money (1570s) "Roman coins found in England." In Greece, after Christianity had erased the memory of classical glory, ruins of pagan temples were called "Jews' castles," and in Cornwall, Jews' houses was the name for the remains of ancient tin-smelting works.
updated on October 10, 2017