How do you call your Spanish speaking patients?

It may get a little bit confusing and sometimes even controversial.

Here you have some basics to start understanding this subject.

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Hispano (Language based)

refers to people who speak Spanish or who are originally from a Spanish speaking country.


Latino (geography based)

refers to people from Latin America including Mexico in North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, but not Spain.

  • A person who is Hispanic may also be Latino, but this is not always the case.

  • A person from Spain would be Hispano but not Latino because Spain is a Spanish speaking country but not a Latin American country.

  • People from Brazil are considered Latinos (because Brazil is a Latin American country), they are not considered Hispanos because Brazil is a Portuguese speaking country not a Spanish one.

  • A person from Mexico, Colombia, Honduras… would be Hispano and Latino.

All of this is quite relative. I am presenting you with a very Americanized vision, but from the European point of view, all this can be approached in a slightly different way, starting with the term Latino.

But since your patients are not going to be from Spain, France, or Italy, we are going to leave this topic for another time.



relates to people of Latin American origin or descent, used as a gender neutral or non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina. By using Latinx you can avoid choosing a gender, much like using singular “they” avoids the choice between “he” or “she” in English.


But this word has many detractors specially among Hispanos/Latinos who tend to be more traditional. It is more often used among Americans (estadounidenses) than among the people it is supposed to describe.

It is more American, people in Latin America don’t really use it that much. It is a word created in The United States and not in a Latin American country.


Gentilicio (adjective of the country of origin)

While it’s true that the terms Hispanic and Latino and even Latinx can create a sense of community, most of the times they prefer to be identified by their country of origin or they might also say that they are Cuban-American, or «my family is from Cuba» and so on.

Sometimes your patients prefer to be called mexicano, hondureño, colombiano, salvadoreño….