The term "gypsy" originally applied to a band of nomadic warrior tribes from India who had traveled for so many centuries they forgot where they had originated. During the Middle Ages, these dark-skinned nomads traveled through Europe. When the Europeans assumed they hailed from the ancient land of Egypt, the nomads did not correct them. The nomads were then labeled as Egyptians which was shortened to "gypsies." The Gypsies became known for their colorful clothing, exotic music and dance, and nomadic lifestyle.
The term "gypsy" became associated with actors and dancers because of the hard, nomadic life of the working performer. The exotic clothing of their costumes led to the opening night tradition involving the "gypsy robe" ceremony. For Broadway, the "gypsy" refers to the unsung heroes of the chorus who comprise the backbone of every show.
See also: chorus, gypsy robe
Also Known As: chorus member, actor, singer, dancer, Broadway chorus, legs
Alternate Spellings: gipsy (British)
Common Misspellings: jipsy
Examples: Performing in a Broadway national tour is the ultimate gypsy life for a performer.