Hispanic vs. Latino – Know How They Differ

With all the commotion with names, labels, and titles we’ve got going on these days, it’s pretty hard to keep up with all the defining factors that people identify with. Hispanic and Latino are two examples of constantly mixed up terms that very few people know the difference between.


Why do People use Hispanic and Latino Interchangeably?

The thing is, you see, that “Hispanic” and “Latino” are more of an ethnic reference than a racial one (despite some people’s belief on that). And just like all ethnic bases, the two terms vary in meaning from one person to another.

One thing’s for sure though; Hispanic people are identified by a different set of prospects than that for Latino people.

Who is Hispanic?

hispanic vs latino definition

The most important thing to understand is that “Hispanic” is very language/culture- exclusive; that being the Spanish language/culture. Any native of Spain who lives in America can be identified as a “Hispanic”.

In fact, the term even comes from a Latin word for Spain “Hispania”, and it’s just generally perceived within a Spanish domain.

Now due to the fact that most Latin American people speak Spanish, it is kind of safe to say that a vast majority of Latin Americans identify as Hispanic, but the terminology remains perspective.

Sometimes it even depends on what a person is brought up to believe in the expanse of specific factual principles. Not to mention that some individuals might even take offense in the word given the spreading racial-exclusive misuse of it.

Learn The Major Differences Between Race And Ethnicity


Who is a Latino?

hispanic versus latino

Unlike “Hispanic”, “Latino” is more geography-oriented. The term is fished out from Latin American, and that pretty much sums it up; a Latino is anyone living in Latin American countries or independencies.

There are 20 countries and 13 independencies in Latin America, and Romance Languages are usually dominant throughout them. Basically, “Latino” is way more flexible than “Hispanic”, and a wide variety of people identify with the term.

Latinos spread out throughout South and Central America, the Caribbean, and all Spanish-speaking provinces. The major point is, however, that speaking Spanish isn’t a determining factor when it comes to Latinos; Brazilians speak Portuguese, and they are Latinos but not Hispanic.


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Differences Between Hispanic and Latino

Given the common grounds on which those two terms roam, we’ve compiled this small Hispanic vs. Latino comparison table:



The term is very Language-exclusive, and it is centered on specific Spanish ancestry. The term is more geography-oriented, and many people from different countries identify with it.
It’s mainly dominant in a Spanish medium where natives of Spain usually respond to it. It widens the scope to include all people living in any of the Latin American countries and independencies.
It comes from the Latin word for Spain: “Hispania” which later on became “Espana” It comes from the generalized “Latin America” where it stands as a demonym.


In the end, both Hispanic and Latino people can identify with very similar if not identical traditional and ethnic backgrounds, but the thin line separating the two remains nonetheless.