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(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.

Subjects: History

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