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Giaour or Gawur (Turkish: gâvur; Turkish pronunciation: [ɟaˈʋur], /aʊər/, from Persian: گور‎‎ gaur, Albanian: Kaur), meaning "infidel", is an offensive term, a slur, historically used in the Ottoman Empire for Christians, such as Orthodox Christians in the Balkans (non-Muslims).[1][2] Christian ethnic groups in the Ottoman Empire referred to with the term include Albanians, Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians, Serbs and Assyrians among others. It was widely used in defters (tax registries) for Orthodox Christians.[2]

The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica described the term as follows:

Giaour (a Turkish adaptation of the Persian gdwr or gbr, an infidel), a word used by the Turks to describe all who are not Muslims, with especial reference to Christians. The word, first employed as a term of contempt and reproach, has become so general that in most cases no insult is intended in its use; similarly, in parts of China, the term foreign devil has become void of offence. A strict analogy to giaour is found in the Arabic kafir, or unbeliever, which is so commonly in use as to have become the proper name of peoples and countries.

European representations[edit]

The Combat of the Giaour and Hassan by Eugène Delacroix (1826, oil on canvas, Art Institute of Chicago). Inspired by Lord Byron's poem The Giaour.
  • Giaour is the name given to the evil monster of a man in the tale Vathek, written by William Thomas Beckford in French in 1782 and translated into English soon after. The spelling Giaour appears in the French, as well as in the English translation.
  • Recently, a 4chan meme, "Mehmet, my son", makes reference to "giaour girl from Balkanlar" as one of the two choices of wife for the title character.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Speros Vryonis (1993). The Turkish State and History: Clio Meets the Grey Wolf. Institute for Balkan Studies. ISBN 978-0-89241-532-8. The Turkish term "giaour" a term of contempt, was applied to these Balkan Christians, 
  2. ^ a b Entangled Histories of the Balkans: Volume One: National Ideologies and Language Policies. BRILL. 13 June 2013. p. 44. ISBN 978-90-04-25076-5. In the Ottoman defters, Orthodox Christians are as a rule recorded as kâfir or gâvur (infidels) or (u)rum.