[ gring-goh ]
/ ˈgrɪŋ goʊ /

noun, plural grin·gos. Slang: Usually Disparaging and Offensive.

a term used in Latin America or Spain to refer to a foreigner, especially one of U.S. or British descent (sometimes used facetiously).

Nearby words

  1. grinding wheel,
  2. grinding-in,
  3. grindle,
  4. grindstone,
  5. gringa,
  6. griot,
  7. grip,
  8. grip tape,
  9. gripe,
  10. gripe water

Origin of gringo

1840–50, Americanism; < Spanish: foreign language, foreigner, especially English-speaking (pejorative); probably alteration of griego Greek. The belief that word is from the song “Green Grow the Lilacs,” popular during U.S.-Mexican War, is without substance

Usage note

Use of this term implies that the foreigner is an outsider who does not understand or respect Hispanic culture or does not treat Hispanics well. However, gringo is sometimes used consciously for humorous effect, without intent to offend. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for gringo

British Dictionary definitions for gringo


/ (ˈɡrɪŋɡəʊ) /

noun plural -gos

a person from an English-speaking country: used as a derogatory term by Latin Americans

Word Origin for gringo

C19: from Spanish: foreigner, probably from griego Greek, hence an alien

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for gringo



1849, from Mexican Spanish gringo, contemptuous word for "foreigner," from Spanish gringo "foreign, unintelligible talk, gibberish," perhaps ultimately from griego "Greek." The "Diccionario Castellano" (1787) says gringo was used in Malaga for "anyone who spoke Spanish badly," and in Madrid for "the Irish."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for gringo


In Latin America, a foreigner, especially a North American or Englishman; usually a term of contempt.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.