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Marrano

Marrano (in medieval Spain) a christianized Jew or Moor, especially one who merely professed conversion in order to avoid persecution. The name is Spanish, and is of unknown origin, although various explanations have been suggested; these include the earlier (10th-century) Spanish marrano ‘hog’, assuming the word to be used as a particularly offensive term of abuse, or Spanish Arabic muḥarram ‘excommunicate’. This suggestion is based on the view that Jewish and Muslim converts would be suspected of practising their former religion in private, and would thus be excommunicates.

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Marrano

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Marrano

MARRANO

MARRANO , term of opprobium used to denigrate the New Christians of Spain and Portugal. Various origins for the term have been suggested. These include the Hebrew marit ayin ("the appearance of the eye"), referring to the fact that the Marranos were ostensibly Christian but actually Judaizers; moḥoram attah ("you are excommunicated"); the Aramaic-Hebrew Mar Anus ("Mr. forced convert"); the Hebrew mumar ("apostate") with the Spanish ending ano; the Arabic mura'in ("hypocrite"); and the second word of the ecclesiastical imprecation anathema maranatha. However, all such derivations are unlikely. The most probable, as clearly shown by Farinelli's study, is from the Spanish word meaning swine, a word already in use in the early Middle Ages, though Y. Malkiel argues plausibly for a derivation from the late Arabic barrān, barrānī, meaning an outsider or stranger, and a coalescence of this word with the term marrano "pig, pork" derived from Latin verres "wild boar." The term probably did not originally refer to the Judaizers' reluctance to eat pork, as some scholars hold. From its earliest use, it was intended to impart the sense of loathing conveyed by the word in other languages. Although romanticized and regarded by later Jewry as a badge of honor, the term was not as widely used, especially in official circles, as is often believed. In Latin America as a rule it is not found in official documents and there is little evidence of its unofficial use in most places.

bibliography:

Roth, Marranos, 27f.; A. Farinelli, Marrano: storia di un vituperio (1925), 36; Y. Malkiel, in: joas, 68 (1948), 175–84.

[Martin A. Cohen]

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Marrano

MARRANO

Pejorative word used by the Christian populace to designate a Jew ostensibly converted to Catholicism during the fourteenth century persecutions in Spain and Portugal, but who continued to practice Judaism secretly.

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