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