Why do Mexicans say Gringo?

Why do Mexicans say Gringo?

Today, we’re talking about the word GRINGO. So, probably you are here to understand what a gringo is, where the word comes from, or why we use it to refer to English speakers? —Did you notice I said English speakers and not U.S. Americans?

You might have heard different theories about this, but believe me, no es lo que crees (it's not what you think!). So, let’s find out together, shall we?

Why “Gringo”?

Para empezar, ¿de dónde viene esta palabra? (For starters, where does this word come from?) 

So, I did some journalist work and I did a couple of digital interviews… Watch the video to listen to people's answers! You will notice that there are some similarities, but we are not REALLY sure about the origin of the word gringo

Believe it or not, the word gringo is not only used to refer to people from los Estados Unidos (the United States). I think this was caused by all the stories told by our Mexican ancestors, but it is actually used to refer to any foreigner that speaks a language other than Spanish.

So, gringo could be translated, simply, as ‘foreigner'.

The dictionary says…

Gringo, according to María Fernanda’s dictionary, means: cualquier extranjero de tez blanca que no sea latino (any light-skinned foreigner who is not Latino).

Although what I said is kind of true, hay historias diferentes (there are different stories) about where and when this word was used for the first time.

Some say it comes from la música (music). Specifically, from the song “Green Grow the Lilacs Oh” or from “Green Grow the Rushes”, una canción irlandesa (an Irish song). —I had never heard this theory in my life, but it exists!

History says…

Actually, the theory that has proof in history is el diccionario de Esteban de Terreros, de 1787 (the Esteban de Terreros’ dictionary, from 1787), where it is stated that in Málaga, Spain, they would use the word gringo to refer to all the foreigners that had an accent other than a Spanish accent.

Wait, WHAT?!

This one is actually similar to María Fernanda’s dictionary definition! ¡Ya ven, amigos! (You see, my friends!) ¡No estaba tan perdida! (I wasn’t that lost!).


So, final verdict…

Here’s the story that is the most likely to be true: gringo comes from the word griego (Spanish word for Greek), and in the past, people would call someone griego if they spoke unintelligibly (in other words, if they spoke no Spanish).

Now, since Mexicans have the most contact with non-Spanish speakers from the U.S., it just seems like we refer to U.S. Americans as gringos because of proximity, but as you found out today, that’s not the case. Canadians are gringos too! 

And mis amigos, if you hear someone calling you or referring to someone else as gringo, do not take it as an offensive word. Actually, this just means you are un extranjero (a foreigner) and don't get us wrong: we do NOT want you to get out! 

¿Hay otras palabras en español (Are there in other words in Spanish) whose meaning or origin you would like to know? Then, let me know in the comments below so I can prepare another special video just for you.

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