What does "Gringo Price" mean in the following context?

"A lot of places will “Gringo Price” you. Remember those scammy repair places in the US? They exist in Portugal too."

Source: How to Buy a Car in Portugal

  • That blog writer should not have capitalized that usage. It just looks bad that way.
    – Lambie
    Sep 24, 2018 at 14:05

6 Answers 6


The definition of "gringo" according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

a foreigner in Spain or Latin America especially when of English or American origin

Here is the definition from Oxford dictionary:

(in Spanish-speaking countries and contexts, chiefly in the Americas) a person, especially an American, who is not Hispanic or Latino.

So if you are visiting these countries (Latin America, Spain, ...) you may face "gringo pricing" which is the overcharged price that foreigners may be presented with when shopping for something in these countries.

This may happen because people in these countries may think that since you are an American or you come from Europe, Canada, Japan or ... you are very wealthy (or you are not aware of the exact price), so they may have a special price for you.

  • 7
    Eh, Spain is not a developing country and we not use the term "gringo" much. We prefer the term "guiri" for all tourist foreigners. Usually "guiris", and Spanish natives as well, are overcharged in the main tourist zones of the country. This overcharging usually applies to food, souvenirs and accomodation in those specific zones but it's not a general trait. The same occurs in Paris and London, for example, "full-developed" countries.
    – RubioRic
    Sep 24, 2018 at 12:21
  • 3
    @RubioRic I didn't want to say that Spain is a developing country. Maybe the way I had written, made you think like that :) I edited my post to avoid ambiguity. َAnd about this part " we not use the term "gringo" much", well this is what online dictionaries have mentioned. Thanks for your contribution as a native and for informing us about the preferred term in Spain.
    – helen
    Sep 24, 2018 at 12:44
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    No problem, but the dictionary entry you quoted is not very accurate. Notice that the term is not commonly used in Portugal either, the country referred in the article, as stated in another answer. "Gringo" seems to be how Americans think that we named them in all Latin countries both in America and Europe but that's not the case.
    – RubioRic
    Sep 24, 2018 at 13:41
  • 6
    @RubioRic Well, I added the definition from Oxford Dictionary and Merriam-Webster. I think these dictionaries are considered to be valid.
    – helen
    Sep 24, 2018 at 15:00
  • 9
    I'm brazilian, and in Brazil (in my personal experience at least) we do use gringo as a slang to describe foreigners, usually ones from more developed countries, but especially english-speaking foreigners. Sep 24, 2018 at 19:00

According to the Cambridge Dictionary


used in Latin American countries to refer to people from the US or other English-speaking countries

Notice that the word gringo is not commonly used in Spain nor Portugal as you can verify in the entry of the Wikipedia linked in another answer. Nowadays we know the word because it appears in Western movies.

The author of the article is not talking about a general trait of a whole country, he's talking about "those scammy repair places". Those places exists in all countries that got cars. They do not sell cars, they repair them, and they are going to charge you whatever they want. And they may charge you even more if you don't know the native language, the "Gringo Price".

Have you seen U Turn, a film directed by Oliver Stone? That's the place and that's the attitude. And all the film occurs in an U.S town.

That's the whole point and it got nothing to do with you being from a richer country. It's NOT about you being from the U.S.A. It's about you being foreigner, ignorant about mechanics and unable to discuss the price.

                                        Billy Bob Thorton in U turn

                        You owe me money, gringo! And this car aint goin' no place 'till I get it!


In Spanish and Portuguese, gringo is a term used for foreigners, specifically, English-speaking foreigners. The specific meaning varies, but Wikipedia says this about the Portuguese usage:

In Portugal the word gringo is not commonly used. Also, there is the word "Ianque" (Portuguese spelling of Yankee). It is never used in a formal context. It specifically describes someone from the United States (as does "Americano"), and is not related to any particular physical or racial features. The most common slang terms used throughout the country are "Camone" (from the English "come on") and "Bife" (pronounced like "beef", but equivalent to "steak" in English) for English born. The most used and correct expressions are "estrangeiro" ("foreigner" in English).

So, in this context, "Gringo Price" is the price for American foreigners. The article goes on to suggest that the price is higher:

Remember those scammy repair places in the US? They exist in Portugal too. The only difference is they rob you extra because you are a foreigner and people assume you are rich.

  • gringo is used everywhere in the Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking world. That said, caps would not be used.
    – Lambie
    Sep 24, 2018 at 14:01
  • 6
    @Lambie That's not right. The article is written by an American. The word "gringo" is not commonly used in all Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking countries. You can believe my word or read the wikipedia entry linked. And in the places referred by the OP's article, the "Gringo price" is going to be applied to all non Portuguese speaking foreigners, not just for Americans.
    – RubioRic
    Sep 24, 2018 at 14:17
  • 3
    RubioRic I could argue with you since I happen to speak fluent Spanish and Portuguese (Brazil, born and raised) and have been to Portugal and Spain tons of times. I also talk to many, many Latin Americans and have done so over my adult life. The word gringo is often used everywhere in Hispanophone countries (from Mexico to Argentina including the Caribbean) and Lusophone countries. I said the word gringo means American but I didn't define "gringo price".
    – Lambie
    Sep 24, 2018 at 14:36
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    @Lambie I'm only talking about Spain and Portugal but let just center in Spain, my home country, nowadays we understand the word "gringo" because we have heard it in Western movies but we don't use it much. As I have stated, and as someone have written in the Wikipedia, we use "guiri" instead in a more general way, for all foreigners. If you have come to Spain, you surely have heard it.
    – RubioRic
    Sep 24, 2018 at 14:44
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    @Lambie I'm Portuguese, no Portuguese people use 'gringo' in their vocabulary. I heard it several times when visiting Brazil, though.
    – Miguel M.
    Sep 26, 2018 at 9:08

In informal contexts verbs can be coined on an ad hoc basis from a noun phrase (optional modifier) + noun; the reference is to a commonly occurring scenario.

Be wary when shopping for a new car. The salesman may try to factory undercoat you.

That is, may try to charge you for a service which is widely understood to be of no value.

The constructions are not only novel but elliptical. You are not being factory undercoated yourself, but are being charged for the cost of factory undercoating the car.

The counter workers in that coffee shop have been trained to upsell customers. They always try to chocolate cupcake you.


The writer of the cited article is a Spanish speaker. It says so on his profile. Also, there was no reason for him to capitalize the expression.


The expression preço de gringo [gringo price] is very Brazilian sounding. The writer probably heard it in a Brazilian (Portuguese) context.

In the Aurelio dictionary,it says a designation for foreigners, especially North Americans. [by which they mean Americans]. The same definition is in the Iberian Portuguese dictionary, Priberam.

Here is the usage chart for the word in Spanish, from the Real Academia Espanola:

Etim. disc.

  1. adj. coloq. Extranjero, especialmente de habla inglesa, y en general hablante de una lengua que no sea la española. [translation: coloquial, foreigner, especially English speaking, and in general a speaker of a language that is not Spanish]

  2. adj. coloq. Dicho de una lengua: extranjera.[said of a foreign language]

  3. adj. Bol., Chile, Col., Cuba, Ec., El Salv., Hond., Nic., Par., Perú, Ur. y Ven. [in those countries, the word means: an American, or U.S. citizen] estadounidense. U. t. c. s.

  4. adj. Ur. inglés (‖ natural de Inglaterra). in Uruguay, an English person [from England]

  5. adj. Ur. ruso (‖ natural de Rusia). Also, a Russian

  6. m. y f. Bol., Hond., Nic. y Perú. [in those countries, a blond person with a white face] Persona rubia y de tez blanca.

  7. m. coloq. Lenguaje ininteligible. [colloquially, an unintelligible language]

A gringo price is a price charged to rich foreigners or to "Americans" insofar as Americans are identified with money. Gringo on its own is either an American or a rich foreigner.

Finally,gringo often has a negative political connotation. As can be seen here as used by Arturo Pérez-Riverte:

cabrones de gringos

He said: Tenemos que olvidarnos del hispanocentrismo y comprender que los españoles somos solo una parte de la lengua. El caudal vivo, el español de futuro, el que van a hablar en todo el mundo, y desde luego los cabrones de los gringos, es el español. Somos una patria sin fronteras ni ideologías. Somos 500 millones de compatriotas con una bandera legítima, el Quijote. Nuestra patria es la lengua española.

Translation: We need to forget Hispanocentrism and understand that we, Spaniards, are only part of the language. The living channel, the future Spanish, the one everyone is going to speak, and due to that, those gringo bastards [one possible translation of cabron], is Spanish. We are country without borders or ideologies. We are 500 million compatriots with a single legitimate flag, El Quijote [Don Quijote]. Our country is the Spanish language.

  • Upvoted. But "guiri" is the commonest word in this context: 3. m. y f. coloq. Turista extranjero. And Pérez-Reverte loves Western films where "gringo" is profusely said by mexicans. Cheers.
    – RubioRic
    Sep 24, 2018 at 18:19
  • @RubioRic But we are discussing English, my friend. Not Spanish. Yes,Mexicans say gringo all the time. Here's a good idea about why though unprovable: worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-gri1.htm Also, AP-R is using the word politically. :)
    – Lambie
    Sep 24, 2018 at 18:36
  • I've lost track of what we're discussing. Gringo = American foreigner in all Spanish speaking countries. That's right. I think that the word is not correct in that context because the situation described could apply to any foreigner not just to Americans and not just in Portugal, Spain or Latin America but in any country with cars. That's my main point. Also, you're right again, Don Arturo is using the word politically.
    – RubioRic
    Sep 24, 2018 at 18:51
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    Yes, here it means the price charged to a rich foreigner. Forget American in this case. The blog writer did not understand that in English it does not mean what it means in Spanish. So, in fact, he sounds silly using that.
    – Lambie
    Sep 24, 2018 at 20:30

As other answers have stated, Gringo is not a term generally used in Europe. The expression is simply one that makes sense in one context (Non-locals being charged extra in Central/ South America), and is well known enough to make sense when being applied in a different context.

  • 1
    Though they certainly do it everywhere where there are tourists. There was a scandal in the news a few years ago about restaurants in Austria which actually used different menus for tourists, with higher prices.
    – RedSonja
    Sep 26, 2018 at 8:48

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