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Gringo, a slang, usually derogatory term used in Mexico for Anglo-Americans or English speakers. Elsewhere in Latin America it can also refer to someone who speaks Spanish badly.

The origin of this term is veiled in mystery. According to folk legend, the term may have developed during the Mexican War, when the Mexican population heard U.S. soldiers singing a popular song, "Green Grow the Lilacs." Another possibility is that it is a corruption of the Spanish word griego (Greek), meaning strange or foreign words that are not understood.


Don H. Radler, El Gringo: The Yankee Image in Latin America (1962); Diccionario manual ilustrado de la lengua española, 4th ed. (1989).

Additional Bibliography

Arriaga Weiss, Víctor Adolfo, and Ana Rosa Suárez Argüello. Estados Unidos desde América Latina: Sociedad, política y cultura. México, D.F.: Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, 1995.

                              Richard Griswold del Castillo

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