Latino (demonym)

"Latina" redirects here. For other uses, see Latina (disambiguation).
"Latinos" redirects here. For the newspaper series, see Latinos (newspaper series).

Latino (/læˈtin/ or /ləˈtin/)[1] is a term often used to refer to people with cultural ties to Latin America and people of nationalities within the bounds of Latin America, in contrast to Hispanic which is a demonym that includes Spaniards and other speakers of the Spanish language.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] The term Latino can be used to refer to males or females, whereas the term Latina is used to refer to females only.

The U.S. government's Office of Management and Budget has defined Hispanic or Latino people as being those who "trace their origin or descent to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central, and South America, and other Spanish cultures."[10] The United States Census uses the ethnonym Hispanic or Latino to refer to "a person of Dominican, Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race."[11] The Census Bureau also explains that "[o]rigin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s ancestors before their arrival in the United States. People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be of any race."[12] Hence the U.S. Census and the OMB are using the terms differently. The U.S. Census and the OMB use the terms in an interchangeable manner, where both terms are synonyms. The AP Stylebook's recommended usage of Latino in Latin America includes not only persons of Spanish-speaking ancestry, but also more generally includes persons "from or whose ancestors were from . . . Latin America, including Brazilians."[9] However, in the recent past, the term "Latinos" was also applied to people from the Caribbean region, including those from former Dutch and British colonies.


In English, the terms latino and latina are shortened forms of American Spanish "latinoamericano" and "latina americana" which are New World expansions of the Old World terms "latino" and "latina", ultimately from the Ancient Roman Latin terms latīnus and latīna which literally mean Latin. The term in the United States is the abbreviated form of the Spanish American word latinoamericano (Latin American).[13][14] This use of the expression Latin derives from the cultural distinctions between the Romance language nations such as Italy, Spain, France, Portugal and Romania, and non-Latin European nations including the Germanic countries of Northwestern and Central Europe. These distinctions grew as the Germanic countries tended to embrace Protestantism while the Romance language countries remained Roman Catholic.[15]

In its modern English usage, the idea that a part of the Americas has affinity with the Romance cultures of the Roman civilization as a whole can be traced back to the 1830s, in the writing of the French Saint-Simonian Michel Chevalier, who postulated that this part of the Americas was inhabited by people of a "Latin race" and that it could, therefore, ally itself with "Latin Europe" in a struggle with "Teutonic Europe", "Anglo-Saxon America" and "Slavic Europe". The term "Amérique latine" ("Latin America") was supported by the French Empire of Napoleon III during the French invasion of Mexico, as a way to include France among countries with influence in America and to exclude Anglophone countries, and played a role in his campaign to imply cultural kinship of the region with France. The idea was taken up by Romance-speaking intellectuals and political leaders of the mid- and late-nineteenth century Americas who no longer looked to Spain or Portugal as cultural models, but rather to France.

It is very interesting to consider the etymology of the term "Amérique latine" ("Latin America") because it was created as a means to identify newly acquired territories and people whose culture was closely influenced by France. With this in mind and the boundaries of the French empire at the time, Haitians are "Latin(e)-Américain(e)" ("Latin American") people for the original purpose and use of this term. French Canadians and US French and Creoles are latin(e) people as well.

Use in the United States

The term Latino was officially adopted in 1997 by the United States Government in the ethnonym Hispanic or Latino, which replaced the single term Hispanic: "Because regional usage of the terms differs – Hispanic is commonly used in the eastern portion of the United States, whereas Latino is commonly used in the western portion."[16]

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:[17]

  • Spanish speakers and persons belonging to a household where Spanish was spoken
  • Persons with Spanish heritage by birth location
  • Persons who self-identify with Latin America, excluding Brazil

Neither "Hispanic" nor "Latino" refers to a race, as a person of Latino/Hispanic ethnicity can be of any race.[18][19] Like non-Latinos, a Latino can be of any race or combination of races: White/Caucasian, Black/African American, Asian, Native American, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander American, or two or more races. While Brazilian Americans are not included with Hispanics and Latinos in the government's census population reports, any Brazilian American can report as being Hispanic or Latino since Hispanic or Latino origin is, like race, a matter of self-identification.[18][20]

Other federal and local government agencies and non-profit organizations include Brazilians and Portuguese in their definition of Hispanic. The U.S. Department of Transportation defines Hispanic Americans as, "persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central or South American, or other Spanish or Portuguese culture or origin, regardless of race."[21] This definition has been adopted by the Small Business Administration as well as by many federal, state, and municipal agencies for the purposes of awarding government contracts to minority owned businesses. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Conference include representatives of Spanish and Portuguese descent. The Hispanic Society of America is dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. Each year since 1997 the International Latino Book Award is conferred to the best achievements in Spanish or Portuguese literature at BookExpo America, the largest publishing trade show in the United States. The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, which proclaims itself the champion of Hispanic success in higher education, has member institutions in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America, Spain, and Portugal.

Some authorities of American English maintain a distinction between the terms "Hispanic" and "Latino":

Though often used interchangeably in American English, Hispanic and Latino are not identical terms, and in certain contexts the choice between them can be significant. 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 sometimes 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 origin. Of the two, only Hispanic can be used in referring to Spain and its history and culture; a native of Spain residing in the United States is a Hispanic, not a Latino, and one cannot substitute Latino in the phrase the Hispanic influence on native Mexican cultures without garbling the meaning. In practice, however, this distinction is of little significance when referring to residents of the United States, most of whom are of Latin American origin and can theoretically be called by either word.[22]

The AP Stylebook also distinguishes between the terms Hispanic and Latino. The Stylebook limits the term "Hispanic" to persons "from - or whose ancestors were from - a Spanish-speaking land or culture."[7][8] It provides a more expansive definition, however, of the term "Latino." The Stylebook definition of Latino includes not only persons of Spanish-speaking ancestry, but also more generally includes persons "from -- or whose ancestors were from -- . . . Latin America." [9] The Stylebook specifically lists "Brazilian" as an example of a group which can be considered Latino.[9]

Listed below are the 28 categories tabulated in the 2000 United States Census: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican Republic; Central American: Costa Rican, Guatemalan, Honduran, Nicaraguan, Panamanian, Salvadoran, Other Central American; South American: Argentinian, Bolivian, Chilean, Colombian, Ecuadorian, Paraguayan, Peruvian, Uruguayan, Venezuelan, Other South American; Other Hispanic or Latino: Spaniard, Spanish, Spanish American, All other Hispanic or Latino.[23]

Similar and related terms

In English, sometimes "Latino" is used interchangeably with "Latin", as Latino is also defined as a "Latin inhabitant of the United States";[24] and sometimes it is used interchangeably with "Latin American".[25] As a demonym, though, "Latin" can have other meanings:[26][27]

The term "Latino", was implemented in the U.S. to refer to what is a group of people composed of immigrants and residents,[28][29][30] Also, a Spaniard, for example, though a "Latino" by some definitions, is not a Latin American. The term "Latin American", in turn, though normally applied to inhabitants of Latin America, is nevertheless preferred by some individuals and organizations in the United States.[31][32][33] "Latin American" is defined as:


Further information: Hispanic/Latino naming dispute

The use of the term Latino, despite its increasing popularity, is still highly debated among those who are called by the name.[35][36] Since the adoption of the term by the U.S. Census Bureau[37] and its subsequent widespread use, there have been several controversies and disagreements, especially in the United States and, to a lesser extent, in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries. Since it is an arbitrary generic term, many Latin American scholars, journalists, and indigenous rights organisations have objected to the mass media use of the word "Latino", pointing out that such ethnonyms are optional and should be used only to describe people involved in the practices, ideologies, and identity politics of their supporters.[38][39][40][41] Journalist Rodolfo Acuña writes:

When and why the Latino identity came about is a more involved story. Essentially, politicians, the media, and marketers find it convenient to deal with the different U.S. Spanish-speaking people under one umbrella. However, many people with Spanish surnames contest the term Latino. They claim it is misleading because no Latino or Hispanic nationality exists since no Latino state exists, so generalizing the term Latino slights the various national identities included under the umbrella.[42]

Popular-culture personalities like Andy García have also expressed concern. He has stated that, in spite of his love of his native Cuba, he dislikes being labeled as a "Latino actor", preferring instead to be addressed as an actor without a tag attached to him.[43]

Definitions in other languages

Further information: Latins

The term latino (feminine latina) in the Romance languages, such as Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish, literally translates as "Latin". The cognate French term is Latin (feminine "latine"), not Latino. Portuguese dictionaries define the demonym latino to refer to natives of Romance-speaking nations influenced by Roman civilization, and to the natives or inhabitants of ancient Latium (modern Lazio).[44][45] Italian dictionaries define latino as the ancient Latins and Romans, and their language, Latin, as well as people of Old World Latin nations (Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Romania) and Neo-Latin nations.[46][47] 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.[48]

See also


  1. Latino. (2012). Retrieved September 7, 2012, from link.
  2. "Latino: People with roots in the Spanish speaking Americas. This term is sometimes used as a replacement for Hispanic.
  3. (Defining "Hispanic" as meaning those with Spanish-speaking roots in the Americas and "Latino" as meaning those with both Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking roots in Latin America.)
  4. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. Anderson, Kevin (2008-10-18). "US elections 2008 (News),New Mexico (News),US politics". The Guardian. London.
  7. 1 2 "AP Stylebook Twitter". Retrieved 2012-04-06.
  8. 1 2 "Herald Style Guide". Retrieved 2012-04-06.
  9. 1 2 3 4 "Newsroom 101: Recent Changes to AP Style". Retrieved 2012-04-06.
  10. Office of Management and Budget. "Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. Federal Register Notice October 30, 1997". Retrieved 2008-01-11.
  13. "Define Latino at".
  14. "Latino - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary".
  15. Loek Halman, Ole Riis: Religion in Secularizing Society: The Europeans' Religion at the End of the 20th Century. See p.141
  16. Office of Management and Budget. "Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. Federal Register Notice October 30, 1997". Retrieved 2008-01-11. Terminology for Hispanics.--OMB does not accept the recommendation to retain the single term "Hispanic." Instead, OMB has decided that the term should be "Hispanic or Latino." Because regional usage of the terms differs – Hispanic is commonly used in the eastern portion of the United States, whereas Latino is commonly used in the western portion – this change may contribute to improved response rates. (Boldface in the original.)
  17. Gibson, Campbell; Jung, Kay (September 2002). "Historical Census Statistics on Population Totals By Race, 1790 to 1990, and By Hispanic Origin, 1970 to 1990, For The United States, Regions, Divisions, and States". Working Paper Series No. 56. Retrieved 2006-12-07.
  18. 1 2 United States Census Bureau (March 2001). "Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  19. U.S. Census Bureau. "U.S. Census Bureau Guidance on the Presentation and Comparison of Race and Hispanic Origin Data". Retrieved 2007-03-18. Race and Hispanic origin are two separate concepts in the federal statistical system. People who are Hispanic may be of any race. People in each race group may be either Hispanic or Not Hispanic. Each person has two attributes, their race (or races) and whether or not they are Hispanic.
  20. "B03001. Hispanic or Latino Origin by Spedific Origin". 2006 American Community Survey. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-20.
  21. U.S. Department of Transportation, "Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program Administration Reference Manual For Division Office Civil Rights Personnel"
  22. "American Heritage Dictionary". Retrieved 2012-04-06.
  23. "American FactFinder Help; Spanish/Hispanic/Latino". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2009-03-02.
  24. Douglas Harper. "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2008-06-08.
  25. Oboler, Suzanne. Ethnic Labels, Latino Lives: Identity and the Politics of (Re) Presentation.
  26. "Latin – Definitions from". Retrieved 2008-01-28.
  27. "Latin – Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary; Latin[2,noun]". Retrieved 2008-01-28.
  28. The concept of “Latino” is an American concept.
  29. Being Latino is an American identity.
  30. The very term Latino has meaning only in reference to the U.S. experience. Outside the United States, we don't speak of Latinos; we speak of Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and so forth. Latinos are made in latin america.
  31. "LULAC-League of United Latin American Citizens". Retrieved 2008-03-05.
  32. "Latin American Association". Archived from the original on December 26, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-05.
  33. "Latin American Youth Center". Retrieved 2008-03-05.
  34. 1 2 "Latin American – Definitions from". Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. Retrieved 2008-03-03.. Definition source: Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
  35. The Term 'Latino' Describes No One
  36. Latino or Hispanic Panic: Which Term Should We Use?
  37. Fisher, Celia B. and Lerner, Richard M. Encyclopedia of Applied Developmental Science SAGE, 2004, ISBN 0-7619-2820-0 Page 634
  38. Latino & Hispanic? It’s Time to Rethink these Terms!
  39. The New York Times – Latino? Hispanic? Quechua? No, American Take Your Pick
  40. Los Angeles Times – Look beyond the 'Latino' label
  41. Hispanic magazine, December 2000
  42. Acuña, Rodolfo, U.S. Latino issues, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003 ISBN 0-313-32211-2
  43. USA Today Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  44. "Dicionário de Língua Portuguesa da Porto Editora". Porto Editora. Retrieved 2008-05-01.
  45. "UOL – Michaelis – Moderno Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa". Editora Melhoramentos Ltda. Retrieved 2008-05-01.
  46. "De Mauro – latino". PARAVIA. Retrieved 2008-05-01.
  47. " – Dizionari". De Agostini Scuola. Retrieved 2008-05-01.
  48. "Real Academia Española. Diccionario Usual". Real Academia Española. Retrieved 2008-05-01.

Further reading

External links

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