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Romanichal vs. Gypsy — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Maham Liaqat — Updated on May 3, 2024
Romanichal are a subgroup of Romani people originating from the UK, specifically England, focused on a distinct cultural identity. Gypsies broadly refer to Romani people across Europe, often used interchangeably but can imply broader cultural diversity.
Romanichal vs. Gypsy — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Romanichal and Gypsy


Key Differences

Romanichal emerged in the UK around the 16th century, developing unique traditions and dialects within the Romani community. Whereas Gypsies, a term used more broadly, describes groups of Romani people spread across Europe, each with their own adaptations to regional cultures.
Romanichal are particularly noted for their specific dialect of Romani, mixed with English, known as Angloromani. On the other hand, Gypsies might speak various dialects of the Romani language, influenced by the languages of countries they reside in, such as Romano-Serbian or Sinti-Manouche.
In terms of lifestyle, many Romanichal have historically adopted a nomadic or semi-nomadic way of life, traditionally living in vardos (caravans). Whereas Gypsies across Europe might also adopt nomadic lifestyles, the type and style of nomadism can vary significantly, influenced by local norms and laws.
Socially and culturally, Romanichal often maintain a tight-knit community structure, focusing heavily on family ties and traditional roles. On the other hand, while Gypsies also value family, their community structures can be more varied, influenced by broader societal interactions and assimilations.
Regarding public perception and stereotypes, Romanichal in the UK may face specific stereotypes and challenges, including discrimination and misunderstanding of their cultural practices. Gypsies, broadly defined, encounter a wide range of perceptions, from romanticized notions to harsh prejudices, varying widely across different European countries.

Comparison Chart


United Kingdom
Various European countries


Angloromani (mixture of Romani and English)
Various Romani dialects


Nomadic or semi-nomadic, traditionally in caravans
Varied, often nomadic, style depends on region

Cultural Focus

Tight-knit family structures, traditional roles
Family important, but more culturally diverse


Specific UK-based stereotypes and discrimination
Broad range of romanticized and negative stereotypes across Europe

Compare with Definitions


Known for their traditional nomadic lifestyle using vardos.
Romanichal are often seen travelling across the countryside in their ornately decorated caravans.


Often associated with a nomadic lifestyle, although lifestyles vary.
Gypsies have been historically known for their nomadic traditions, although many now live in permanent residences.


Holds a strong emphasis on family ties and traditional roles.
In Romanichal culture, family gatherings are significant events, celebrating their heritage and familial bonds.


Values family, though community structures can be diverse.
Family remains a cornerstone of Gypsy culture, though community dynamics can vary widely from one group to another.


A subgroup of the Romani people in the UK, known for a distinct cultural identity.
The Romanichal community in England has its own unique traditions and dialect.


A common term for Romani people, used across Europe with varied meanings.
Gypsy communities in Hungary may differ culturally and linguistically from those in Spain.


Speaks Angloromani, a language blending Romani and English.
Romanichal individuals often communicate using a mix of Angloromani and English, especially at family gatherings.


Speaks a variety of Romani dialects, influenced by regional languages.
Gypsies in the Balkans may speak Romano-Serbian, incorporating elements of the Serbian language.


Faces specific stereotypes and social challenges within the UK.
Romanichal people often confront unique prejudices and misunderstandings about their way of life.


Subject to a wide range of stereotypes, both positive and negative.
Gypsies are often romanticized for their perceived free-spirited lifestyle but also face significant discrimination.


Romanichal Travellers (UK: US: ; more commonly known as English Gypsies or English Travellers) are a Romani subgroup within the United Kingdom and other parts of the English-speaking world. There are an estimated 200,000 Romani in the United Kingdom; almost all live in England.


See Romani.


The Romani language.


A member of any of various traditionally itinerant groups unrelated to the Romani.


A part-time or temporary member of a college faculty.


A member of the chorus line in a theater production.


Alternative form of Gypsy: a member of the Romani people.


(colloquial) An itinerant person or any person, not necessarily Romani; a tinker, a traveller or a carny.


A move in contra dancing in which two dancers walk in a circle around each other while maintaining eye contact (but not touching as in a swing). whole gyp, half gyp, and gypsy meltdown, in which this step precedes a swing.}}


(theater) A member of a Broadway musical chorus line.


(dated) A person with a dark complexion.


(dated) A sly, roguish woman.


Alternative form of Gypsy: of or belonging to the Romani people.


(offensive) Of or having the qualities of an itinerant person or group with qualities traditionally ascribed to Romani people; making a living from dishonest practices or theft etc.


(intransitive) To roam around the country like a gypsy.


To perform the gypsy step in contra dancing.


One of a vagabond race, whose tribes, coming originally from India, entered Europe in the 14th or 15th century, and are now scattered over Turkey, Russia, Hungary, Spain, England, etc., living by theft, fortune telling, horsejockeying, tinkering, etc. Cf. Bohemian, Romany.
Like a right gypsy, hath, at fast and loose,Beguiled me to the very heart of loss.


The language used by the gypsies.


A dark-complexioned person.


A cunning or crafty person.


Pertaining to, or suitable for, gypsies.


To play the gypsy; to picnic in the woods.


A member of a nomadic people originating in northern India and now living on all continents


The Indic language of the Gypsies

Common Curiosities

How are Romanichal communities structured?

Romanichal communities are often tight-knit with strong family ties and a clear emphasis on traditional roles within the family.

What are common stereotypes faced by Gypsies?

Gypsies often face a spectrum of stereotypes ranging from being seen as free-spirited and musical to negative stereotypes of being thieves or beggars.

Are the terms 'Gypsy' and 'Romanichal' interchangeable?

No, 'Gypsy' is a broader term that can refer to various groups of Romani people across Europe, while 'Romanichal' specifically refers to a subgroup within the UK.

Do Romanichal still live in vardos today?

While the traditional lifestyle included living in vardos, many Romanichal now live in fixed homes, though some still maintain their traditional caravans for cultural events or as a lifestyle choice.

How does the Romanichal language, Angloromani, differ from other Romani dialects?

Angloromani is a unique blend of Romani and English, developed specifically within the Romanichal community in the UK, unlike other Romani dialects which are heavily influenced by the dominant languages of the region.

What is the origin of the Romanichal people?

The Romanichal originated in the UK around the 16th century, descending from the Romani people who migrated from continental Europe.

How do educational opportunities differ for Romanichal compared to other UK residents?

Romanichal, particularly those leading a nomadic lifestyle, may face barriers to education such as enrollment challenges and adapting to a non-nomadic educational environment.

What type of lifestyle do Romanichal typically lead?

Romanichal are known for their nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle, traditionally living in horse-drawn caravans known as vardos.

What is the significance of family in Gypsy communities?

Family and extended kin are central to Gypsy life, serving as the primary community structure and support network.

Are Romanichal recognized as an official minority in the UK?

Yes, Romanichal, like other Romani groups, are recognized as an ethnic minority in the UK, which provides them certain rights and protections under the law.

What challenges do Romanichal face in modern UK society?

Romanichal face challenges such as discrimination, lack of understanding of their cultural practices, and issues related to their nomadic lifestyle, especially in terms of access to services.

What roles do traditional music and dance play in Gypsy culture?

Music and dance are integral parts of Gypsy culture, often used in celebrations, rituals, and as a form of storytelling and preservation of their heritage.

How do Gypsy cultural practices vary across Europe?

Gypsy cultural practices vary significantly due to adaptations to the local cultures of the countries they reside in, ranging from music and dance to clothing and culinary traditions.

What efforts are being made to improve understanding and integration of Gypsy communities within broader European societies?

Various NGOs, cultural projects, and legal frameworks aim to improve the integration, understanding, and rights of Gypsy communities across Europe, addressing issues from social inclusion to education and employment opportunities.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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