What is the origin of the term “gringo”, a slang that describes anglos? My spanish teacher has a couple of crazy theories, all of which sound pretty false, and I haven’t been able to find out where it came from.

Jane Fairfax

From :

So, what do they call people from Greece?

“So, what do they call people from Greece?”
—Papa Bear

Sorry, couldn’t help myself. :slight_smile:

Work like you don’t need the money…
Love like you’ve never been hurt…
Dance like nobody’s watching! …Unknown

According to legend in Mexico, during the American invasion of Mexico in 1848 and thereabouts, Mexicans would shout, in English, at the invading army beclad in green uniforms. “Green Go!”

Makes more sense than the Griego theory, to me anyway.

Sorry, Mariachi, the “Green go” theory is wrong. First, how many Mexicans in 1846-48 knew English? Second, the US troops at that time, when they wore uniforms at all, wore blue uniforms. Third, and even more insanely, the Mexicans supposedly got the term from a popular song called “Green Grow the Rushes Round”, which was, according to the story, sung by the US troops as they marched across Mexico.

All these theories have been debunked. I think Jesse’s Word of the Day has something on this, and I think Cecil does, too. “Gringo” is derived from “Griego”, meaning “a Greek” and by extension, “a foreigner”. I think they have examples from the 1700s documenting this.

So the word “gringo” originated in Spain way back when. Papa, by the way, Greeks are still “griegos” over here. It’s the standard word in the Royal Academy Dictionary. The common insult for a Germanic foreigner, including Germans, British, Scandinavians, and Americans in Spain today is “guiri”. No, I don’t know where this comes from.

According to the “Diccionario de la Lengua Española” (the official dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy), the etymology of the word “gringo” is still under discussion. Being Mexican, though, I always heard the same legend mentioned by El Mariachi, and took it for granted (it really made sense to me).

But it seems that Strainger is basically right. In the Spanish language is very common to say that some unintelligibe word was “en griego” (in greek), and apparently “gringo” is an alteration of “griego”.

According to several references I have checked, the word “gringo” is applied mostly by spanish speaking people to anyone speaking any language other than Spanish.

It is sometimes also used to make reference of a fair-skinned blonde person (mostly in Latin America). Güerita, gringuita (blondie), are very common words in México to denominate a blonde woman.

“Gringo” used to be a derogatory term in my country. Not so much anymore. It basically means: foreigner.

Guiri comes from the Basque Guiristino, Cristino. Named used by the “carlistas” to designate the followers of Queen Cristina, and later all other “liberals”, especially government soldiers, during the civil wars of the XIX century.

Ah-hem! But as to the “Green, Go!” Theory, are you my old Spanish teacher, Mr. Huber? He’s the only one I have ever heard to have spewn such a cornball theory, which is the explanation he told our spanish class.

I’m not Mr. Huber…

The Green Go thingy is popular lore in Mexico… I guess we could use a good etymologist or two down here.

So gringo comes from the spanish word for
‘greek’----sounds good----and the spanish word for the letter Y is translated as “greek I” or “I Griega”.

Then there’s always ‘El Greco’ who wasn’t Spanish at all ------but greek

Son of a gun!

EML & MK, I hold Mr. Huber personally responsible for misleading the entire country of Mexico regarding the “green go” issue. Damn him.

Excellent response; let it at that.

So what y’all are saying is that “It’s all greek to me” isn’t just an english phrase?