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).

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

Contemporary Examples of gringo

Historical Examples of gringo

  • Also at any moment the devil may send me a Gringo; their scouts are as plenty as scorpions.


    Laura E. Richards

  • Gringo, if you are not more careful we shall have to gag you!

  • Does my brother know the Gringo has asked the Apaches for a guide?

    The Trail-Hunter

    Gustave Aimard

  • Gringo pig of a spy, you shall die and be fed to the buzzards!

    Uncle Sam Detective

    William Atherton Du Puy

  • In his arroyo again, he proposed to make the Gringo as a sieve.

    The Missourian

    Eugene P. (Eugene Percy) Lyle

British Dictionary definitions for gringo


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

gringo in Culture


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.