gringo


gringo
(Sp. model spelled same [gringo], of disputed origin)
   A term used derisively in the Southwest to refer to Anglos, newcomers, and strangers. The DRAE references gringo as a foreigner, generally one who speaks a language other than Spanish, and especially one who speaks English. It is also an adjective for any foreign language. Santamaría notes that in Mexico it refers to a person from the United States and adds that the term has been extended to refer to any fair-skinned person, or even a white animal with blue eyes and light-colored lashes. There have been many theories, some of which do not reflect careful, serious study as to how this term came into Spanish. Some wordsmiths have suggested it derives from 'green coat,' referring to the uniforms of United States soldiers. Another theory holds that the term comes from a song sung by American soldiers that contained the verse "green grow the rashes, O" ("rashes" was sometimes replaced by "rushes" or "lilacs," depending on the version). Hendrickson suggests that the term derives from the name of Major Samuel Ringgold (pronounced with a trilled /r / and apocope of the final consonant cluster; a plausible Mexican Spanish adaptation). Ringgold was a United States officer and strategist who faced the Mexicans during the Mexican War. However, since the term is attested to as early as 1787 with reference to the Irish brigades in Spain (who may have worn green coats and sung the verse cited above), the preceeding explanations cannot be entirely correct. Far more likely than any of these theories is the distinct possibility that the term comes from griego, meaning Greek in Spanish. It is comparable to the English phrase "it's all Greek to me."

Cowboy Talk. A Dictionary of Spanish Terms. . 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • gringo — (n.) 1849, from Mex.Sp. gringo, contemptuous word for foreigner, from Sp. gringo foreign, unintelligible talk, gibberish, perhaps ultimately from griego Greek. The Diccionario Castellano (1787) says gringo was used in Malaga for anyone who spoke… …   Etymology dictionary

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