[ gring-goh ]
/ ˈgrɪŋ goʊ /
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noun, plural grin·gos.Slang: Sometimes Disparaging and Offensive.
a term used in Latin America or Spain to refer to a foreigner, especially one of U.S. or British descent (often used facetiously).
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Origin of gringo

First recorded in 1840–50; from Spanish: literally, “foreign language, foreigner, especially an English-speaking one who speaks Spanish poorly”; often pejorative; probably alteration of griego “Greek, incomprehensible language”; compare English “It's Greek to me,” first recorded in English in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (1599). The English and Spanish come from the Latin Graecum est; non legitur, “It's Greek; it isn't read” (either because the Greek was incomprehensible or because it was possibly heretical), supposedly dating from medieval monastic scriptoria. The belief that this word is from the song “Green Grow the Lilacs,” popular during the U.S.-Mexican War, is without substance. Cf. Greek

usage note for gringo

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 often used consciously for humorous effect, without intent to offend.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use gringo in a sentence

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

Cultural 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.