Hispanic vs. Latino


Even though both terms are used interchangeably, there is a difference between Hispanic and Latino. Hispanic is a term that originally denoted a relationship to ancient Hispania (Iberian Peninsula). Now it relates to the contemporary nation of Spain, its history, and culture; a native of Spain residing in the United States is a Hispanic. Latino refers more exclusively to persons or communities of Latin American origin. While there is a significant overlap between the groups, Brazilians are a good example of Latinos who are not Hispanic. Both terms were meant to refer to ethnicity, not race; however, in the U.S., they are often used haphazardly to refer to race as well. As such, personal adoption of the terms is rather low.

Comparison chart



Terminology Hispanic refers to language. Hispanic if you and/or your ancestry come from a country where they speak Spanish. Latino refers to geography. Specifically, to Latin America, to people from the Caribbean (Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic), South America (Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, etc.) and Central America (Honduras, Costa Rica, etc.)
In the U.S. Was first adopted by the United States government during the administration of Richard Nixon It has been used in the U.S. Census since 1980. "Hispanic" is used more often in states such as Florida and Texas. The government adopted these terms because they did not have an inclusive term to identify and segregate the mixed white with black and native "mestizo or mulato people of Central and South America.
Derived from The term "Hispanic" comes from a Latin word for Spain "Hispania", which later became "España". It refers to a person of Latin American or Iberian ancestry, fluent in Spanish. The term "Latino" is shortened from Spanish latino americano, "Latin American" thus narrowing the scope of meaning to Central and South America, and Spanish speaking Carribean Islands.
Usage "Hispanic" is primarily used along the Eastern seaboard, and favored by those of Caribbean and South American ancestry or origin. “Latino” is principally used west of the Mississippi, where it has displaced “Chicano” and “Mexican American.”

Contents: Hispanic vs Latino


Hispanics vs Latinos

The term Hispanic is derived from the Latin word for "Spain," while Latino is derived from Spanish word for Latin but which as an English word is probably a shortening of the Spanish word latinoamericano, which in English means "Latin American."

Use in the United States



Personal Adoption of Terms

According to a survey released by the Pew Hispanic Center, only 24% of "Hispanic" adults said they most often identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino. About half said they identified themselves most frequently by their family's national origin — e.g., Mexican, Cuban, Salvadoran, etc. An additional 21% said they called themselves American most often, a figure that climbed to 40% among those born in the U.S.[1]

Some find it offensive to be called Hispanic or Latino and prefer to be called by their true ethnic group, such as Mexican, Colombian, Bolivian, etc.


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Comments: Hispanic vs Latino

Anonymous comments (7)

October 24, 2012, 11:08am

Ok, but how about a certain phenomenon that happens in the US; people born into parents of different nationalities. I'm an example. My mother is from Nicaragua and my father is from Honduras. When the census comes I need to identify myself with a label even if I don't want to in order to be taken into the count. I could easily say I'm a Central American - American (I often do by the way). That way I'll include both my parents' nationality. But that's not an option on the census or in any other governmental application. I really don't mind using the term "Hispanic" though I get really annoyed with "Latina". It irks me. I really think that we should have a term that identifies us all, as a whole. As the big community we are here in the United States. I don't really like this new fact that people rather be called by their original nationality. Yes, it may be an account of pride but it also indicates separatism among ourselves, the so-called "Hispanic" community. I think it's okay if you're in your country of origin, but once you're here in the US, I believe you should start seeing yourself as part of a bigger picture. We all go through the same struggles, Mexican, Cuban, Colombian, Honduran, Nicaraguan, Argentinian, etc. Not just one nationality in particular. Yes, some may have it worse than others but in the end, we all go through the same. How is it that we want to be seen as a group, a "community" by White America if we seperate ourselves too? We really should just call ourselves Hispanics or Latinos if you prefer that one. It may be annoying, but it'll do. That way, White Americans and the government will truly see us as the emerging, whole "community" we claim to be and are.

— 74.✗.✗.6

July 12, 2013, 3:00pm

Imagine, a world without borders. When you view pictures of earth from the skies where are the border lines. Imagine.

— 208.✗.✗.2

April 13, 2014, 4:26pm

I am Puerto Rican mixed blood with Spanish Indian and black we come or type of colors we are a proud people, n we are not prejudice because we are brothers and sisters

— 108.✗.✗.104

September 22, 2013, 8:13am

To me as a Colombian, who identifies himself with the traditions and culture of South American countries... It doesn't really matter if I'm refer to as a Hispanic (for purpose of the language) but I really prefer the term Latino, since It makes me part of a region that I love, protect and respect.
I vibrate with the power of salsa music (Puerto Rico, Cuba and Colombia), I enjoy delicious churrascos ( Brazil and Argentina), I love the peaceful sounds of Andean Music (Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia), I learn how to eat gallo pinto (Costa Rica), a couple of taquitos (Mexico).
Drink any of our delicious natural and traditional juice (Parchita, Orchata, Chicha, Avena) how about some red wine from the Valley (Chile).
At the end when someone ask me where I was born I am proud to say.... in Cali, Colombia but also if they ask me ...if I identify myself as a Latino....I have to say ABSOLUTELY !!

— 74.✗.✗.77

January 15, 2013, 8:57pm

Should English people and Canadians and Australians and Americans consider themselves the same culture because they speak the same language? Should an umbrella term be imposed upon them? I think it's great that people are identifying themselves with their country of origin. As the US becomes more homogenized, it's important to gather up as much about your history and your family as possible. These qualities help people remember where they came from, and inspire us to do do even better than those that came before us by learning what they can teach us. I respect your opinion but it's still a bit closed minded.

— 208.✗.✗.70

January 24, 2014, 5:26pm

I have Mexican and Spainish blood in me, and i have no problem being called hispanic.

— 172.✗.✗.184

September 13, 2013, 2:13pm

"They are, it's "White". But nobody ever seems to get offended by that term. Why is white the last group defined by appearance?" There are plenty of non white people living down under and there are native people in canada. Nobody calls any of those countries "white". Generally people refer to them as Canadians or natives, Australians (specifically aborigines), The french have gypsies and a growing black muslim community. I've never in my life heard anybody refer to countries of france, canada, and Australia as the same and say they're all white. I suppose if I met enough stupid people maybe but I don't travel in such circles.

— 76.✗.✗.215


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Ethnicity vs. Race