13 Mexican Indigenous Words You Didn't Know You Were Using

13 Mexican Indigenous Words You Didn't Know You Were Using
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Many Americans mistakenly view Mexicans as foreign. In fact, the indigenous people of Mexico have called North America home for a whole lot longer than the Europeans who first started populating the Americas at the close of the fifteenth century. As a reminder, here's 13 words in Nahuatl, the language of the Mexica people of Central Mexico, that English speakers use all the time -- many without knowing it.

1
Avocado
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Passed into English by way of the Spanish word "aguacate," the word originates from the Nahuatl term "āhuacatl," meaning both "avocado" and "testicle," according to Merriam-Webster.
2
Cacao
WikiMedia:
The fruit whose dried seeds are used to make chocolate was originally named cacahuatl.
3
Chocolate
The Nahuatl "xocolatl" is made up of the parts "xococ," meaning "bitter," and "atl," meaning "water."
4
Coyote
These North American canines take their name from the Nahuatl "coyōtl."
5
Guacamole
The Nahuatl "āhuacamōlli" literally means "avocado sauce."
6
Jicama
WikiMedia:
This vegetable, which is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, bears a name adapted from the Nahuatl "xīcama."
7
Jalapeño
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The name of this spicy pepper comes from the Mexican city of Xalapa in the state of Veracruz. In Nahuatl, "xalapan" means "sand by the water."
8
Mesquite
WikiMedia:
If you've traveled to the U.S. Southwest, you've likely seen these trees that lend a smokey flavor to Texas barbecue. The name comes from the Nahuatl "mizquitl."
9
Mezcal
The name for one of Mexico's greatest contributions to world culinary culture, "mezcal," evolved out of the Nahuatl term "mexcalli." Made from the smoked heart of the agave, the prefix means "maguey" -- a synonym for the plant -- while xcalli means "something cooked," according to Dictionary.com.
10
Ocelot
The French shortened the Nahuatl name or this spotted cat once commonly seen in the Americas, from tlālōcēlōtl.
11
Peyote
A tourist eats peyote at the desert near the town of Real de 14, in San Luis Potosi State, Mexico on July 17, 2013. Getty Images
The name of this hallucinogenic cactus derives from the Nahuatl "peyotl."
12
Shack
Though the word is of uncertain origin, some think it evolved out of the Nahuatl term "xacalli," for "wooden hut."
13
Tomato
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The English word for this fruit is an adaption of the Nahuatl "tomatl."
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