Search: gringo origin
Why: Leigh said it refers to Americans in general, not just whiteys, because of their "green coats." Or something.
Answer: No one knows for sure! Its first recorded English use was in John Woodhouse Audubon's 1849 Western Journal:
We were hooted and shouted at as we passed through, and called ‘Gringoes.’Theories:
- It comes from griego, the Spanish word for Greek, as in "It's Greek to me," aka hablar es griego ("speak in Greek"). Here, "Greek" is both incomprehensible and spoken by a foreigner or stranger.
- During the Mexican-American War, American soldiers wore green coats.
- It comes from the early 1500s song "Green Grows the Holly" (or "Green Grows the Lilacs" or "the Laurels" or "the Rushes Oh!" all based on a poem by Robert Burns). During the Mexican-American War, the song was sung by Catholic American immigrants (from Ireland, Germany, etc.) who had been sent to Mexico to fight. They questioned why they were fighting against other Catholics on the side of Anglo-Protestants, and then several hundred deserted America to form St. Patrick's Battalion, joining the Mexicans to fight against their Protestant abusers.
The More You Know: