Why do Mexican Americans refer to Mexicans as "Spanish"? Has "Mexican" become a bad word?

Here in California I have noticed that most Mexican Americans refer to other Mexicans as "Spanish". Why? Just speaking Spanish doesn’t make one Spanish. Being from Spain makes one Spanish. I speak English, but I’m not from England so I’m not English. I almost get the feeling that Mexicans here in California regard the word Mexican as an insult. Why? Being from Mexico makes one Mexican just as surely as being from Italy makes one Italian.


  1. WHAT!?!?!?! I’m Mexican AND I’m from California and I HATE it when people do this! I NEVER do that, and I’m shocked that you know Mexicans who do. It’s really annoying to me, I thought only Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans did that, it must be catching on. All the Mexicans I know DO know the difference between the two.

    I agree with Texhatta, a lot of Puerto Ricans in New York say that and it’s really annoying that they don’t know how ignorant that sounds. Mexican is not an insult, not to me. You can call me Mexican a million times and it would not bother me because after all I am…well Mexican American actually but whatever.

    Maybe some people are starting to see it that way because a TON of Americans are so ignorant that when they speak of illegals they call them Mexicans as if all Mexicans are illegal, and actually my ancestors have been in California and all over what is now Southern US since it was still a part of Mexico so I’m just as American if not more than everyone else. There are tons of Mexican Americans in the US who have been here for many generations so people need to stop being so ignorant, it embarrasses me as an American.

  2. I don’t know. I’ve noticed this too. ‘Mexican’ has become a derogatory term for some reason. Maybe because when a lot of people see a Hispanic person they call them a Mexican? Or maybe when someone hears the word Mexican they assumed they’ve illegally crossed the border?
    I live in Iowa, and the town I live in has a factory where a lot of Hispanics work, so there are a lot in the town. People will often say, "Damn Mexicans" whenever they hear someone speaking in Spanish. I’m not even sure if they’re all from Mexico. I know some are.

    ǥ®ąɧąɱʾş ɱąɱą
  3. I really have no idea why they would call themselves ‘Spanish’, like aren’t they usually very patriotic?

    I’m completely with you by the way. But maybe someone on this site will enlighten us!

  4. I am a Mexican-American from Texas and I had never heard other hispanics calling themselves Spanish until I moved to NYC. I have concluded that it is just a ignorant categorization that some hispanics call other hispanics when they are not sure if they are mexican, dominican, puertorriquen, etc. It has just become a slang word for Hispanic or Latino. No one is ever offended to be called a Mexican, unless they were born in the US then they are American. I guess I might get a little offended if someone called me Mexican, cuz I am American or Mexican-American. IDK being hispanic in the US is just so confusing because there are so many categorizations, that sometimes I don’t even know what to call myself.

  5. i live in california and i dont hear hear that but your right they speak spanish but they are not "spanish" per say just like blacks in america speak english but are not "english"

    Just Trying To Help
  6. Spanairds are very upset when hispanics refer themselves spanish. Spanairds dont even think that hispanics speak spanish, because there are differences between spain-spanish and hispanic-spanish. Spanairds just dont want to have anything to do with hispanics, period.

    Em T
  7. refering to latinos as "spanish" is more of an east coast thing. For example, the famous latino neighborhood in NY known as "Spanish Harlem". I’m Mexican American from California and most people I know simply use the word Mexican to describe themselves. I have noticed that SOME Mexican Americans use the term Hispanic describe themselves when interacting with non-latinos but I dont know anyone who uses the actual word "Spanish". I do agree that some people regard the word Mexican as almost a derogatory term because of how it’s used. If you tune in to US media, the only time you hear the word Mexican is in a negative connotation or a derogatory way.

    j a

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