Social Justice

Hispanic, Latino or Latinx?

Nomenclature matters when you're speaking to a specific segment. When we address people the way they want to be addressed, we demonstrate human empathy. Accurately describing a group of people ensures representation, avoids exclusion, and keeps us relevant. When it comes to the largest minority in the US, the choice of whether to use "Hispanic," "Latino," or "Latinx" depends on various factors, including context, individual preference, and the level of inclusivity and respect you want to convey. Here are general guidelines for when to use each term.


This term is used to refer to people with connections to or heritage from Spanish-speaking countries or regions. This includes countries in Latin America, Spain, and other Spanish-speaking territories. Strictly under this definition, a country like Brazil, with Portuguese -not Spanish- as its official language, would not fall into the “Hispanic” category. "Hispanic" is often used for demographic categorization and data collection purposes, especially in the United States.

Latino (or Latina for Women)

This term is used to refer to people with origins in or cultural ties to Latin America, including countries where Spanish, Portuguese, and other Romance languages are spoken. "Latino" is gendered, with "Latino" referring to men and "Latina" referring to women. However, some people use "Latino" as a gender-neutral term, which may not accurately represent gender diversity within the community.

Latinx and Latine

Latinx and Latine are more recent terms and represent an effort to make language more inclusive and gender neutral. These words are used as an alternative to the gendered terms "Latino" and "Latina. "Latinx" is used to describe people of Latin American or Hispanic heritage without specifying gender. It is particularly significant for individuals who do not identify as strictly male or female or who identify as non-binary or genderqueer. While "Latinx" is gaining popularity, it is not universally accepted within all Latin American communities, and some people prefer other terms, like "Latine," to address this gender inclusivity.

Even when these newer terms are designed to ensure total representation, Hispanics have expressed mixed emotions about Latinx or Latine; a very small percentage of the segment actually use this denomination as a self-descriptor. A 2021 Gallup survey indicated the following preferences by Hispanic Americans:

How to Choose the Right Term

Ultimately, it's crucial to respect how individuals and communities identify themselves. If you are unsure about which term to use, the best approach is to ask individuals how they prefer to be identified. Some people may have strong preferences for one term over another, while others may not mind which term is used, as the Gallup survey seems to indicate. In formal or academic writing, it's a good practice to clarify your terminology and explain your choice when discussing diverse communities or populations.

Language is constantly evolving, and preferences can vary among different regions and communities. Staying informed and being respectful of people's identities and preferences is key when using these terms.

Let’s Talk

At Mustard & Moxie we are passionate about segment marketing with a deep understanding of the different ethnic groups that allows us to communicate with them in a relevant and respectful way. We partner with Latino-focused nonprofits and use the terms they prefer according to the audiences they are trying to reach. For more information on how we support these organizations in their marketing initiatives, please check out our case studies.