Spanish American

[ span-ishuh-mer-i-kuhn ]

  1. a person of Latin American descent living in the U.S.

  2. a person of Spanish descent living in the U.S.

  1. a native or inhabitant of a Spanish American country.

  1. noting or relating to the parts of America where Spanish is the prevailing language.

  2. of or relating to the natives or inhabitants of Spanish America, especially those of Spanish descent.

  1. of or relating to persons of Latin American descent living in the U.S.

  2. of or relating to persons of Spanish descent living in the U.S.

  3. Spanish-American, occurring between Spain and America, often between Spain and the United States: an example of Spanish-American cooperation.

Origin of Spanish American

First recorded in 1770–80

Grammar notes for Spanish American

There is some variation in the hyphenation of compound adjectives when those adjectives describe nationalities, ethnicities, or geographical origins.
In general, English will hyphenate compound adjectives, but not compound nouns that contain the same elements. For example, members of the middle class may aspire to homeownership in a nice, middle-class neighborhood.
Following that logic, compound nouns describing nationality or ethnicity are never hyphenated (a Mexican American ), but compound adjectives would be (a Mexican-American senator). Some writers do adhere to this distinction and will hyphenate compound adjectives of national or ethnic origin.
However, many style guides make an exception to the rule of adjectival hyphenation for this class of words and omit the unifying hyphen. She is married to an Israeli American . He is an Israeli American entrepreneur. The capitalization of the constituent elements aids in their recognition as a single meaningful unit, and the absence of the hyphen in these compounds minimizes sociopolitical connotations for some speakers and audiences.
Though the adjectival hyphen in geographical compounds meaning "and" or "both" may be omitted, the hyphen is not optional when it indicates a relationship "between" the two elements of the compound. That is, you may enjoy Spanish American cuisine, but the war between Spain and the United States in the 19th century is known as the Spanish-American War. Your neighbor may be an Asian American professor, but if she studies the economic relationship between China and the United States, she is taking an interest in Asian-American trade.

Words Nearby Spanish American Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use Spanish American in a sentence

  • This type of structure is prevalent in almost all the older Spanish-American cities.

    Mexico | Charles Reginald Enock
  • But the Church and her religion is the Spanish-American woman's special kingdom.

    Mexico | Charles Reginald Enock
  • It fell to my lot in one Spanish-American country to receive a challenge.

    Mexico | Charles Reginald Enock
  • The Spanish-American states, especially until recent years, were nothing but a specie of military tyranny.

    The United Seas | Robert W. Rogers

British Dictionary definitions for Spanish-American


  1. of or relating to any of the Spanish-speaking countries or peoples of the Americas

  1. a native or inhabitant of Spanish America

  2. a Spanish-speaking person in the US

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