Folklore says it was generated when the US invaded mexico, wearing green uniforms, and the people shouted at them "Green Go Home".
With time it lost all derogatory status and was turned into the most common word to refer to any US citizen.
no hes a gringo
why wont you share your smokes, dont be such a gringo
American soldiers entered the country through the Gulf of Mexico, taking down the main port of Veracruz and then heading towards Mexico City. The troops were wearing GREEN COATS.
Mexican people along the way from Veracruz to Mexico suffered the advance of the enemy and many battles were fought. However, the American army finally reached Mexico City and took the city down in an epic battle still remembered by all the Mexicans: The battle of Chapultepec Castle. This palace, in the top of a hill, is the highest point over Mexico City: there was the Mexican flag, so it was a symbolic target.
The headquarters of the Military College were in Chapultepec castle too, and when the "green coats" were climbing the hill, a few young cadets refused to leave and decided to defend the castle to death. Then, when the battle was helplessly lost, one of the cadets took the Mexican flag, wrapped himself on it and jumped off the cliff were the castle is set, dying in the rocks below, thus avoiding the American army to take the flag. When the American commander saw the corpses of the cadets, he said in amazement "They are only children!". So they became in death Los Niños Héroes, the symbol in Mexico of the resistance against invaders: the American army... the green coats.
The war was over and USA claimed half of Mexico's territory... then the green coats went home, having gained possesion of Texas and other territories -and their resources- (the same old motif than nowadys, but the speech has changed).
Ever since, the relationtship USA-Mexico has developed into a very complex love-hate relationtship and the destiny of both nations is linked together, but back then, a new term was born in popular language: gringo (green coat)
Now, let's make clear that the term is used nowadays the same as affectionate as pejorative and as none of the above too. As complex as it seems, Mexican people can use the word with different intentions but in any case with just one meaning: it refers in a common way to USA citizens, who are distinctive not because of the colour of their skin, but because of their culture and behavior (anyone outside USA knows exactly what behavior is it!)
Other derivatives of the word include:
gringa: female for gringo, as substantive.
gringo/gringa: as adjectives.
agringado: something/someone that resembles USA culture or the American way of life.
As a final note i must say that the word spread to other countries over Latin America (even to Spain) where it is used to refer to foreigners and/or white people: but that's just the way some people outside Mexico understand the word!
Nevertheless, in Mexico, a "gringo" is just an American citizen. And it implies nothing else.
Las películas gringas tienen los mejores efectos especiales.
American films have the best special effects.
Las gringas son facilotas.
American girls (springbreakers) are promiscuous.
Esa casa es de estilo agringado.
That house has an American-like style (meaning it is a new rich tasteless house)
Los gringos creen que son los policías del mundo.
Americans think they are the police of the world.
En Gringolandia pasan todas las desgracias: meteoritos, tormentas y ¡hasta Godzilla!
In U.S.A. happens all kind of disfortune: meteores, storms and even Godzilla!
It has nothing to do with race. It's not derogative.It's a nationality.
If someone says "pinche gringo" the derogative word is "pinche", not "gringo".
We call them gringos because it'd be stupid to call them "americans", since America is a continent, not a country.
2.- Something from the US
2.- Q:Where did you get those jeans?
But the term is indeed related to American soldiers who invaded Mexico during the Mexican-American war. It actually came from the lines of what was then a song that was very popular with American infantrymen.
See the example.
"Oh, the ash and the oak and the willow tree,
And green grows the grass on the infantry"
Being members of the infantry, the second line was sung with particular fervor. "Green grows" sounded like "gringoes" to the non-English-speaking Mexicans, so they used that term to refer to all of the American soldiers.