• synonyms


noun, plural cho·los. Chiefly Southwestern U.S.
  1. (especially among Mexican-Americans) a teenage boy who is a member of a street gang.
  2. Usually Disparaging. a term used to refer to a Mexican or Mexican-American.
  3. a mestizo of Spanish America.
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Origin of cholo

1850–55; < Mexican Spanish: mestizo, peasant, allegedly shortening of Cholollán (< Nahuatl Cholōllān, modern Cholula), a city-state in pre-conquest Mexico

Usage note

When used of a Mexican or Mexican-American, the term cholo usually refers to an immigrant who is considered to be low-class and inferior. However, cholo is also a term of self-reference used by Mexican-American youths.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cholo

Historical Examples

  • The cholo who took food to Perez and that German dog has brought me a message.

    The Treasure Trail

    Marah Ellis Ryan

  • Cholo was succeeded by Pinikahti, who was half Indian and half Mexican.

  • The worst of all races in Peru is the offspring of the negro and the cholo.

  • The Cholo leads us into South America, where for the present; we leave it.


    Robert Gordon Latham

  • And when a cholo got his time and left the line, he showed him the way he was to go.

Word Origin and History for cholo


"Indian or mixed-race person of Latin America" (fem. Chola), 1851, from American Spanish (c.1600), said to be from Nahuatl (Aztec) xolotl "dog, mutt." Proposed derivation from Mexican city of Cholula seems too late, if this is the same word. In U.S., used of lower-class Mexican immigrants, but by 1970s the word began to be embraced in Latino gang slang in a positive sense.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper