What is the difference between gypsies and nomads?

The main difference between Gypsy and Nomad is that Gypsy is part of an ethnic group that originated in Northern India and currently lives mostly in America and Europe, while Nomad is part of a community of travelers who move from place to place from time to time pull another.

It is important to note that gypsies can be nomads. However, not all nomads are gypsies. In short, Gypsy refers to an ethnic group while Nomad refers to a community. However, there are socio-economic and cultural differences between gypsies and nomads.

Key areas covered

1. Who is a gypsy - definition, history, people 2. Who is a nomad - definition, people 3. Similarities between gypsies and nomads - outline of common features 4. Difference between gypsies and nomads - comparison of key differences

key terms

Gypsies, nomads Difference Between Gypsies and Nomads - Summary of Comparison

Who is a gypsy

Gypsies are an ethnic group that emigrated to Europe years ago. They are relatives of people originating in South Asia, typically North India, and traditionally behave like nomads. Today we consider them to be one of the largest ethnic minorities living in Europe.

Gypsy communities have a rich oral tradition and there are strong family ties within the community. Though considered exotic and bizarre, Gypsy communities in Europe have been ethnically harassed for centuries. The prevailing social image of Gypsy is that they are clever, mysterious outsiders; we mostly associate them with divination, magic and supernatural elements.

Who is a gypsy

Most gypsy communities in the past led a nomadic lifestyle in order to survive. However, the majority of modern gypsy communities are settled in permanent settlements. In addition, Gypsies do not welcome marriages outside of their communities. Usually the parents arrange the marriages; the groom's parents usually do the matchmaking. Many gypsy couples marry when they are teenagers, while single teens, male or female, do not have the opportunity to be alone together as they firmly believe that a girl should protect their chastity .

Who is a nomad?

Nomads are the communities who travel from one place to another without settling permanently in a particular place. In short, many cultures have traditionally been nomadic and still adapt to nomadic ways.

Within a nomadic community it is assumed that they all descend from a common ancestor. As a result, they tend to maintain close family ties that are tested and re-established in financial crises or disputes with family or community outsiders.

Gypsy vs. nomad

The facets of nomadic culture and society are shaped according to their constant migration. Similar to the gypsies, nomads are also considered "outsiders" who "wander around" from the majority society. When it comes to nomadic shepherds, they embark on seasonal hikes along fixed routes between established pastures and bodies of water. During the migrations, however, nomads and their herds have to face many hardships such as climate changes and diseases. Any significant loss of animals is catastrophic, as nomads' survival depends heavily on the welfare of their herd. In addition, the constant migrations of facing sedentary opponents, as well as the need to defend the herds, have shaped the nomads into warriors with good riding and archery skills.

Similarities Between Gypsies and Nomads

  1. Gypsies can be nomads. However, all gypsies are not nomads.
  2. Both gypsies and nomads have low literacy rates. This is essentially a result of their nomadic lifestyle.
  3. Both gypsies and nomads stand as outsiders of mainstream society and culture.
  4. Teen marriages are accepted in both cultures.

Difference between gypsies and nomads


Gypsy is part of an ethnic group that originated in Northern India while Nomad refers to a community of travelers who move from one place to another from time to time.

Social perception

The social perception is that the nomads are shepherds and great warriors, while we associate gypsies with divination, magic and supernatural elements.


Romani is the language spoken by most of the gypsies. However, the language of one nomadic community is different from another.


Nomads do not have permanent settlements. They wander from one place to another. They usually have a herd of cattle that they move around with themselves. However, not all gypsies live nomads. Some gypsy communities live in permanent settlements .


In short, the main difference between Gypsy and Nomad is that Gypsy is part of a specific ethnic group while Nomad is a community of travelers who move from one place to another from time to time. However, both gypsy and nomadic communities share similar socio-cultural elements that set them apart from the mainstream socio-cultural code.


1. "Culture and History". National Association of Gypsy Liaison Groups . 2. " Nomads in Eastern Central Asia ". Nomadic culture | Silk Road Program.

Image courtesy:

1. " Dancer-Gypsy-Active-Young-Costume-1054002 " (CC0) via Pixabay “ Oman 2010 Wahiba Sands Nomads ” By D7031tg - Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the author: Anuradha

Anuradha holds a BA in English, French and Translation Studies. She is currently studying English literature in a second language context in the master’s course. Her areas of interest include art and literature, language and education, nature and animals, cultures and civilizations, food and fashion.