"Gringo" (feminine, "gringa") is a Spanish and Portuguese word used in Latin America to denote foreign non-native speakers of Spanish (regardless of race), especially English-speakers from the British Isles, and Americans, Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders, as well as some other Latin Americans. [ Diccionario de la lengua española] , Royal Spanish Academy, 22nd. edition] [ "Origin of the word gringo"] , J.H. Coffman, letter to the editor, "Honduras This Week", Saturday, January 11, 1997 Online Edition 37.]

Hispanophones disagree whether or not "gringo" is derogatory. The "American Heritage Dictionary" entry classifies "gringo" as "offensive slang", "usually disparaging", and "often disparaging". [ [ American Heritage Dictionary] , [] , [ Merriam Webster Online] ] The usages of "gringo" sometimes are derogatory, paternalistic, and condescendingly endearing, especially when a foreigner condescends to the people and culture he or she is visiting. [ For example, [ Gringo Records] is an U.S. website named for the word.] The Internet Movie Database's entry for " [ Old Gringo] ", an American film] The enunciation of the word communicates connotation, insult or not. Like many derogatory terms, "gringo" has been co-opted; drummer Randy Ebright, of the band Molotov, dubbed himself "El Gringo Loco" (The Crazy Anglo).


*The Anglosphere: Latino migrants to the USA occasionally use the term as a more derogatory synonym of Anglo.Fact|date=December 2007
* In Central America, the word is not pejorative. In Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica the term refers to U.S. citizens. In the Dominican Republic it also means a non-free range store bought chicken ("pollo gringo").Fact|date=December 2007 In Puerto Rico, the term refers to U.S. citizens in the U.S. mainland.
* In the countries of South America where this term is used, the word is not pejorative. In some countries it may be used to refer to any foreigner who does not speak Spanish as a native language, or in Brazil, someone who does not speak Portuguese as a native language, but in other countries it is used just or especially to refer to U.S. citizens; it may also be used to describe a blond or brunette white native person with soft facial features and light colored eyes. For instance, it is a popular nickname.
**In Uruguay and Chile, apart from being used to refer to citizens of the United States, it can be applied to European people; particularly those who conform to the physical stereotype (blond hair, blue eyes, fair skin).
**In Peru the word "gringo" is used all over the country among white and non white population. It is used to refer White people. It is not pejorative.
**In Ecuador the word "gringo" can be used to refer to foreigners from any country, not only the United States, though the likelihood of being described as a "gringo" increases the closer one's physical appearance is to that of a stereotypical northern European.


Folk etymologies

There are many popular but unsupported etymologies for this word, many of which relate it to the United States Army in some way or another.

Mexican-American War

A recurring etymology of "gringo" states that it originated during the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. "Gringo" comes from "green coat" and was used in reference to the American soldiers and the green color of their uniforms (U.S. Army uniforms of the time were blue). Yet another story, from Mexico, holds that Mexicans with knowledge of the English language used to write "greens go home" on street walls referring to the color of the uniforms of the invading army; subsequently, it became a common habitual action for the rest of the population to yell "green go" whenever U.S. soldiers passed by.

These explanations are unlikely, since the U.S. Army did not use green uniforms until the 1940s, but rather blue ones, and after that brown (early 20th century including World War I). [ [ Army Quartermaster Foundation, Inc. Homepage] ]

Another assertion maintains that one of two songs – either "Green Grow the Lilacs" or "O Green Grow the Rushes" – was popular at the time and that Mexicans heard the invading U.S. troops singing "Green grow..." and contracted this into "gringo".

Another hypothesis maintains that the U.S. troops, during the Mexican-US war were looking for the green grass (Marihuana) which may be misunderstood by the Mexicans as "gringo"

However, there is ample evidence that the use of the word predates the Mexican-American War.

Other "green" derivations

In the Dominican Republic it is said that the term was a mispronunciation of the words "green gold", referring to the green color of U.S. currency, as well as the corruption of the exclamation: "green go!", said to have voiced local opposition within the volatile context of both U.S. military interventions to the Island. Another interpretation makes a generalized character judgment of U.S. citizens: "they see 'green' (money) and they 'go' (after it)".

"Greek" hypothesis

According to the Catalan etymologist Joan Coromines, "gringo" is derived from "griego" (Spanish for "Greek"), the archetypal term for an unintelligible language (a usage found also in the Shakespearean "it was Greek to me" and its derivative "It's all Greek to me"). From referring simply to language, it was extended to people speaking foreign tongues and to their physical features — similar to the development of the ancient Greek word βάρβαρος ("bárbaros"), "barbarian"."Griego" at "Diccionario crítico etimológico castellano e hispánico", Vol. III, Joan Corominas, José A. Pascual, Editorial Gredos, Madrid, 1989, ISBN 84-249-1365-5] [ Urban Legends Reference Pages] ] [ Ask Yahoo: How did the term "gringo" originate?] ] Still, scholars are not in agreement about the correct origin of this word.


In Brazil, the meaning and use of gringo differs significantly from the Spanish-speaking Latin American countries.

Etymologically, the word is documentedly not native to European Portuguese language and is actually borrowed from Spanish since the 19th century at least. Thus the Greek reference is reinforced there as the word "grego" for Greek in Portuguese (without the "i") would not have given "gringo". Also in Brazilian or even Portuguese popular culture, someone unintelligible is traditionaly said to speak Greek (sometimes German or, much more recently, Chinese).

This is also reflected in that the word usage is not naturally widespread and only generally in regions exposed to tourism like Rio de Janeiro. There, the word means basically any foreigner, North American, European or even Latin American, though generally applying more to any English-speaking person and not necessarily based on race or skin color but rather on attitude and clothing. The word for fair skinned and blond people would be rather "Alemão" (i.e., German)." [ In Brazil, Not All Gringos Are Equal] ", by Thaddeus Blanchette; an article on the meaning of 'gringo' in Brazil]

Other uses

In Mexican cuisine, a "gringa" is a flour tortilla taco of spiced pork ("carne al pastor") with cheese, heated on the "comal" and then served with a "salsa de chile" (chile sauce). The explanation of this particular platter refers to a pun : A "gringa" is a "taco al pastor", but white (flour tortilla instead of corn tortilla) and with cheese in it, but has the same pork on the inside as regular "taco al pastor". This meaning that gringos (anglos), may look different on the outside, but are basically the same on the inside.

In the 1950s, the blue Fifty Mexican peso bill was called an "ojo de gringa" ("gringa's eye"). [See a picture at the [ Banco de México website] .]


The word "Gringolandia" (Gringoland) is a mock, single-word name for the "United States of America". fact|date=March 2008 A possible origin is that the U.S. has no single-word name other than the sometimes ambiguous "America". "Gringolandia" derives from the compounding of the words "gringo" and "-landia" (land of) into this term.


*"Goodbye, if you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags please know that I think that a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs. To be a Gringo in Mexico – ah, that is euthanasia!" – Ambrose Bierce (last words of his final written communication, a letter to his niece, Lora, in December 1913.)

ee also

*Güero (disambiguation) (Huero)
*Old Gringo
*Use of the word American


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • gringo — [ griŋgo ] n. et adj. • 1899; mot esp. d Amérique du Sud ♦ Péj. Américain des États Unis, anglo saxon, pour les Latino Américains. Les gringos. ● gringo nom masculin (espagnol gringo) Péjoratif. Nom donné, par les Mexicains, à un étranger… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • gringo — (n.) 1849, from Mex.Sp. gringo, contemptuous word for foreigner, from Sp. gringo foreign, unintelligible talk, gibberish, perhaps ultimately from griego Greek. The Diccionario Castellano (1787) says gringo was used in Malaga for anyone who spoke… …   Etymology dictionary

  • gringo — gríngo s. m. Trimis de siveco, 10.08.2004. Sursa: Dicţionar ortografic  gríngo s. m. argentinian de origine europeanã. • (p. ext.; pentru indigenii din America) american (adicã alb). ( din sp. gringo) Trimis de blaurb, 22.03.2006. Sursa: MDN …   Dicționar Român

  • Gringo — Grin go, n. [Amer. Sp., fr. Sp. gringo gibberish; cf. griego Greek, F. grigou wretch.] Among Spanish Americans, a foreigner, especially an American or sometimes an Englishman; often used disparagingly or as a term of reproach. [Webster 1913 Suppl …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • gringo — / griŋo/, it. / gringo/ s.m., sp. [etimo incerto] (pl. gringos ), spreg. [epiteto dato nell America Latina a coloro che non appartengono alla comunità, spec. ai nordamericani] ▶◀ forestiero, straniero …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • gringo — s. m. [Depreciativo] Designação dada a estrangeiros, em especial a norte americanos.   ‣ Etimologia: espanhol gringo …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • gringo — {{hw}}{{gringo}}{{/hw}}(spreg.) Per gli abitanti dell America latina, forestiero di madrelingua non spagnola, spec. inglese o nordamericano …   Enciclopedia di italiano

  • gringo — gringo, ga adjetivo y sustantivo 1) (persona) extranjero, inglés, norteamericano*, americano, yanqui, estadounidense, angloamericano*. sustantivo masculino 2) griego …   Diccionario de sinónimos y antónimos

  • gringo — grȉngo m DEFINICIJA podr. naziv za neromanske doseljenike u Južnoj i Srednjoj Americi; stranac ETIMOLOGIJA amer.engl. ← šp …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • gringo — gringo, ga adjetivo,sustantivo masculino y femenino 1. Origen: América. Pragmática: peyorativo, afectivo. De los Estados Unidos. 2. Origen: Argentina, Perú, Uruguay. [Persona …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

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