AskDefine | Define Latino

Dictionary Definition

Latino adj : related to or derived from the people or culture of Spain; "the Hispanic population of California is growing rapidly" [syn: Hispanic]


1 an American whose first language is Spanish [syn: Spanish American, Hispanic American, Hispanic]
2 an artificial language based on words common to the Romance languages

User Contributed Dictionary

see latino



From latino < latinoamericano (Latin American) < latinus (pertaining to Latium, the region of Italy around Rome), possibly from Proto-Indo-European base *stela- (to spread, to extend, hence flat country as opposed to mountainous).


  1. Of Latin American descent.


  1. A person from Latin America.
  2. A person residing in the United States, who is of Latin American descent.
    Latinos have quickly become the largest minority in the United States.


person from Latin America
person in the US, of Latin American descent


Proper noun

Latino (accusative Latinon)
  1. Latin (the Latin language)


Proper noun

Latino (plural Latinos)

Extensive Definition

The demonyms Latino and Latina (feminine), are defined in English language dictionaries as:
  • "a person of Latin-American or Spanish-speaking descent."
  • "A Latin American."
  • "A person of Hispanic, especially Latin-American, descent, often one living in the United States."
  • "a person of Latin-American origin living in the United States"
The two words originate in American Spanish latino and latina (from Latin Latinus, Latina), either meaning "Latin", or possibly a clipped form of latinoamericano, "Latin American". U.S. official use of the term "Hispanic" has its origins in the 1970 census. The Census Bureau attempted to identify all Hispanics by use of the following criteria in sampled sets:
  • Spanish speakers and persons belonging to a household where Spanish was spoken
  • Persons with Spanish heritage by birth location
  • Persons who self-identify with Spanish ancestry or descent
Neither "Hispanic" nor "Latino" refers to a race, as a person of Latino or Hispanic ethnicity can be of any race. Like non-Latinos, a Latino can be White/Caucasian, or Black/African American, or Asian or Native American or Pacific Islander. Again like non-Latinos, some may identify with more than one race, such as Mestizo (a bi-racial person of White/Caucasian and Native American descent), Mulatto (a person of White/Caucasian and Black/African American descent), Zambo (a person of Native American and Black/African American descent) or any other race or combination.
Although as officially defined in the United States, "Latino" does not include Brazilian Americans, usually contain a blank entry space wherein respondents can indicate a Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin other than the few (Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban) which are specified; presumably, Brazilian Americans can thus self-identify as being of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity — as can anyone with no Latin American background, however. Brazilian Americans are not included with Hispanics and Latinos in the government's population reports.


The term Latino is rejected by some, for various reasons. It is rejected by some indigenists who state that Native American 'Latinos' are disappropriated from their Native American origins and histories by the application of what they consider a racist, Eurocentric term that improperly associates people of different races, i.e. associating both the Spanish colonizers and the indigenous inhabitants, especially the descendants of both groups, as the same ethnic group.

Similar and related terms

In many instances "Latino" is used interchangeably with the terms "Latin" (e.g. "Latin jazz," "Latin Cuisine, "Latin music," "Latin Grammy Awards") and "Latin American," especially in popular speech. As a demonym, though, "Latin" can have other meanings:
  • "a native or inhabitant of Latium; an ancient Roman."
  • "a member of any of the Latin peoples, or those speaking chiefly Romance languages, esp. a native of or émigré from Latin America."
  • "a member of the Latin Church; a Roman Catholic, as distinguished from a member of the Greek Church."
  • "A Latino or Latina."
"Latin American" may also not mean the same as "Latino," depending on which definition of the latter is used. "Latin American" is defined as:
  • "A native or inhabitant of Latin America."
  • "A person of Latin-American descent." Italian dictionaries define the demonym latino as: the ancient Latins and Romans, and their language, Latin, as well as the neo-Latin nations. The dictionary of the Real Academia Española defines ten meanings for latino, including the ancient peoples of Latium and the modern Romance-speaking European and American nations. In these languages, latino, just like any other demonym, is by convention not capitalized.



  • The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States, 4 vls, Oxford University Press 2006, ISBN 0195156005

External links

Latino in Danish: Latino
Latino in German: Latino
Latino in Spanish: Latino
Latino in French: Latino
Latino in Polish: Latynos
Latino in Portuguese: Latino
Latino in Finnish: Latino
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