What does it mean in Spanish to refer to someone as Indio/India? | SpanishDict Answers
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2 Vote

I know that Indio means Indian but a Mexican that I know used it as a kind of Insult. Does it have another meaning in Mexico? I'm really confused by this. Thanks Cardiff

  • Posted Nov 22, 2010
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  • Cardiff I haven't seen you from a pretty long time, welcome back I missed you :) - 00b6f46c Nov 22, 2010 flag

5 Answers

3 Vote

I'm Mexican...

It's true... "indio"... is used as an insult here, it's a derogatory term used with people from indigenous roots... not necessarily uneducated, it's a racist word, and you should try to avoid it.

  • It's interesting. Then, how do you refer to man/woman from India, a country in Asia? - salmonkim Nov 22, 2010 flag
  • I know that "indio" should be the proper term... but we call them "hindú"... which... is actually a religion, but that's how we call them,,, - Tonyriva Nov 22, 2010 flag
1 Vote

In Argentina is used as a derogative term to refer to uneducated people. I guess it's the same in Mexico

1 Vote

It does mean Indian in Mexico and is also considered an insult. From the time I spent in Mexico, I understood the negative meaning to mean someone is acting uncivilized or foolish.

If you were to talk about a native Mexican Indian in mexico you could use indígina, meaning indigenous. I heard this a lot while there.

1 Vote

Yes, it is a bit confusing. In Spain, 'Indio' can refer to the indigenous peoples of either North or South America, or to Indians as well. However we don't use 'indio' directly as an insult, though we do use the expression 'hacer el indio' to say 'to behave foolishly'.

  • Oh that's interesting. Don't think I've heard that one. - margaretbl Nov 22, 2010 flag
0 Vote

Tony's answer is absolutely perfect. This is sadly not unique to Mexico, is also the case in many Latin American countries where, for centuries, the view brought by the European colonists was that the Natives were less than human. So it became a tradition that being called "Indio" was equal to being called a barbarian, a savage, and an idiot.

When I was growing up, a similarly deadly insult was to be called "campesino" - peasant / hick. It was the heritage particularly from the Spanish conquistadores, who used to think that manual labor and going around without "proper" courtly clothes was for animals, and way beneath their dignity. A proof that these people surely had no souls.

For hundreds of years these were also the only Indians known to the people of the Americas. People from India were truly exotic, and as Tony rightly explains, even today they are still called "Hindus", even if they happen to be Christian or Muslim Indians!

I still get into complicated arguments with friends and family over this, because I insist in calling people from India "Indio", against local custom.

If you do a search for "Inidio" under Google Images, you'll see plainly what I mean.

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  • I feel that I am a bit antiquated (old fashion) because I recall that we use to used the word "indio" with affection and respect in my country. - LaVozHispani Feb 26, 2014 flag
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