1. Of or relating to Spain or Spanish-speaking Latin America.
2. Of or relating to a Spanish-speaking people or culture.
1. A Spanish-speaking person.
2. A US citizen or resident of Latin-American or Spanish ancestry.
[Latin Hispānicus, from Hispānia, Spain.]
Usage Note: Though often used interchangeably in American English, Hispanic and Latino have slightly different ranges of meaning. Hispanic, from the Latin word for "Spain," has the broader reference, potentially encompassing all Spanish-speaking peoples in both hemispheres and emphasizing the common denominator of language among communities that might sometimes seem to have little else in common. Latino—which in Spanish means "Latin" but which as an English word is probably a shortening of the Spanish word latinoamericano—refers more exclusively to persons or communities of Latin American Spanish-speaking origin. Of the two, only Hispanic can be used in referring to Spain and its history and culture. In practice, however, this distinction is of little significance when referring to Spanish-speaking residents of the United States, most of whom are of Latin American origin and can thus theoretically be called by either word. · Since the 1980s Latino has come to be much more prevalent than Hispanic in national media, but actual Americans of Spanish-speaking Latin American heritage are far from unified in their preferences. For some, Latino is a term of ethnic pride, evoking the broad mix of Latin American peoples, while Hispanic, tied etymologically to Spain rather than the Americas, has distasteful associations with conquest and colonization. But in recent polls of Americans of Spanish-speaking Latin American ancestry, Hispanic is still preferred over Latino among those expressing a preference, while those having no preference constitute a majority overall. See Usage Note at Chicano.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
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