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Hispanic vs. Latino: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on June 4, 2024
Hispanic refers to people from Spanish-speaking countries, while Latino pertains to those from Latin America regardless of language.

Key Differences

Hispanic is a term that originated from the U.S. Census Bureau, denoting people who have Spanish-speaking origins or ancestry. Latino, on the other hand, refers to individuals originating from or having ancestry in Latin American countries, without emphasis on language.
The distinction between Hispanic and Latino lies primarily in their geographical and linguistic focuses. While Hispanic emphasizes Spanish language roots and can include Spain, Latino focuses on geographic origins from Latin America, encompassing countries that might not be primarily Spanish-speaking.
Additionally, not all Latinos are Hispanic. For example, Brazilians are considered Latinos due to their Latin American origin but are not labeled Hispanic since their primary language is Portuguese. Conversely, Spaniards are Hispanic due to their Spanish language, but they are not Latinos since Spain is in Europe.
It's important to note the evolving nature of identity terms, with some people using them interchangeably. Still, understanding the distinctions between Hispanic and Latino allows for a more nuanced appreciation of cultural and linguistic backgrounds. With both terms, self-identification remains paramount, and individuals might prefer one label over the other or even neither.

Comparison Chart


Term from U.S. Census Bureau
Relates to Latin American origin


Linguistic (Spanish-speaking)
Geographical (from Latin America)

Includes Spain?

No, since Spain is in Europe

Includes non-Spanish speakers?

No, focuses on Spanish-speaking ancestry
Yes, can include Portuguese, indigenous, and other language speakers

Example countries

Spain, Mexico, Argentina, etc
Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, etc

Hispanic and Latino Definitions


Related to Spanish-speaking countries or people.
She shared her Hispanic heritage during the cultural event.


Relating to Latin America or its inhabitants.
The Latino dance forms are incredibly energetic and rhythmic.


Pertaining to the culture or traditions of Spanish-speaking people.
The Hispanic festival was a riot of colors and music.


Connected with countries in Latin America.
The Latino music scene has gained global popularity.


Originating from a Spanish-speaking background.
The Hispanic community celebrated their traditions with fervor.


Denoting the Latin American part of the community.
The festival celebrated the diversity of the Latino community.


Denoting the Spanish-speaking part of the community.
The city has a vibrant Hispanic neighborhood.


Originating from Latin American background.
He's proud of his Latino roots.


Connected with Spain or its former colonies.
Hispanic art has a distinct style that's recognized worldwide.


Pertaining to the culture or traditions of Latin America.
Latino cuisine offers a rich blend of flavors and spices.


Of or relating to Spain or Spanish-speaking Latin America.


A member of one of the Spanish-speaking peoples of the Americas.


Of or relating to a Spanish-speaking people or culture.


A descendant of any of these peoples, especially when living in the United States. See Usage Note at Hispanic.


Alternative case form of Latino


An American whose first language is Spanish


An artificial language based on words common to the Romance languages


Related to or derived from the people or culture of Spain;
The Hispanic population of California is growing rapidly


Can Brazilians be termed as Latino?

Yes, Brazilians are Latinos due to their Latin American origin but are not Hispanic.

Are Spaniards considered Hispanic?

Yes, since they are from a Spanish-speaking country.

Does Hispanic focus more on language or geography?

Hispanic focuses more on the Spanish language.

Which term originated from the U.S. Census Bureau?

The term "Hispanic" originated from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Which term has a broader scope regarding language?

Latino has a broader scope as it includes all Latin American countries regardless of language.

Can someone from Puerto Rico identify as Hispanic?

Yes, Puerto Ricans can identify as Hispanic due to their Spanish-speaking heritage.

Are these terms interchangeable?

While sometimes used interchangeably, Hispanic and Latino have distinct definitions.

Should one ask for preference when using these terms for identification?

Yes, it's always respectful to ask for an individual's preferred identification.

Are all Latinos Hispanic?

No, not all Latinos are Hispanic; for instance, Brazilians speak Portuguese.

Does Hispanic include countries outside the Americas?

Yes, it includes Spain which is in Europe.

Is Latino a term used worldwide?

The term "Latino" is primarily used in the U.S. to refer to Latin Americans.

Are there other terms related to these identifications?

Yes, terms like "Chicano" and "Latina/o/x" have also emerged to represent various identities.

How has the usage of these terms evolved?

Their usage has evolved over time, especially with a growing awareness of cultural nuances and individual preferences.

What does Hispanic mean?

Hispanic refers to people from Spanish-speaking countries or backgrounds.

Is Latino based on language?

No, Latino refers to those from Latin America regardless of language.

Can someone from Spain be termed Latino?

No, Spaniards are considered Hispanic but not Latino.

Is Mexico considered both Hispanic and Latino?

Yes, Mexicans can be identified as both Hispanic and Latino.

Can someone identify as both Hispanic and Latino?

Yes, many people with roots in Spanish-speaking Latin American countries identify as both.

What's the primary distinction between Hispanic and Latino?

Hispanic emphasizes Spanish language roots, while Latino focuses on geographic origins from Latin America.

Which term encompasses more countries, Hispanic or Latino?

Latino encompasses more countries as it covers all of Latin America, while Hispanic is centered on Spanish-speaking countries.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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