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

Hispanic versus Latino 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.”


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.

Race, Ethnicity and Nationality

We have a detailed comparison of race and ethnicity but to summarize:

There is, of course, overlap between many of these. For example, Czech can be both a nationality and ethnicity. But Latino and Hispanic are clearly ethnicities; both groups comprise people of many races and race mixtures, as well people of many nationalities. Hispanic or Latino is not a race. e.g. Afro-Latinx people may identify as Black, there are many White Latinos, as well as indigenous Latino populations who are neither white nor black.


Share this comparison:

If you read this far, you should follow us:

"Hispanic vs Latino." Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 2 Dec 2019. < >