English words derived from Nahuatl – 15 Words

axolotl

larval salamander of mountain lakes of Mexico that usually lives without metamorphosing

The man-made islands created by the Aztecs have been hit by pollution and urban sprawl, endangering the endemic salamanders known as axolotls.
—US News July 9, 2014
mesquite

any of several small spiny trees or shrubs of the genus Prosopis having small flowers in axillary cylindrical spikes followed by large pods rich in sugar

The waterfront at local Anzalduas Park has become a hot spot for crossings and photo opportunities under the palms and mesquite.
—Los Angeles Times July 9, 2014
coyote

small wolf native to western North America

I’ll go out and call for the dog, because it’s getting to be evening, and there are coyotes out there in the woods.
—Feed
chili

very hot and finely tapering pepper of special pungency

“The particular blend of playful menace works together like chili and chocolate,” says Failbetter Games CEO and creative director Alexis Kennedy.
—The Verge July 14, 2014
chipotle

a ripe jalapeno that has been dried for use in cooking

Shooter’s sandwich: The shooter’s sandwich fills a loaf of crusty bread with slices of well-seasoned grilled steak, chipotle chiles and shiitake mushrooms.
—Los Angeles Times July10, 2014
cacao

tropical American tree producing cacao beans

“When you see a mango tree and a cacao tree together, you know people used to live here,” he said.
—New York Times June 12, 2014
guacamole

a dip made of mashed avocado

Because of “The Great Lime Crisis of 2014,” restaurants from New York to Los Angeles have stopped selling margaritas and making guacamole.
—Salon (May 14, 2014)
tamale

corn and cornmeal dough stuffed with a meat mixture then wrapped in corn husks and steamed

For a local take on Mexican, Donna’s Tamales makes vegetarian enchiladas, breakfast burritos and tamales in flavors like smoked Cheddar, black bean and yam.
—New York Times Jan 24, 2013
ocelot

nocturnal wildcat of Central America and South America having a dark-spotted buff-brown coat

They are considered a “bridge” between typical big cats, like lions and tigers, and small cats, like pumas, lynx and ocelots.
—Washington Times (May 18, 2014)
chocolate

a food made from roasted ground cacao beans

A yummy suggestion: an eight-ounce glass of chocolate milk with a pinch of salt, for a new twist on an old favorite.
—US News July 10, 2014)
avocado

a pear-shaped tropical fruit with green or blackish skin

Eating good fat and protein, like eggs, avocado and meat plus vegetables, helped curb sugar cravings.
—Seattle Times July 2, 2014
tomato

mildly acid red or yellow pulpy fruit eaten as a vegetable

And don’t forget about lycopene, found mainly in tomatoes, which has many bodily benefits, including protection against skin-damaging ultraviolet rays.
—US News (July 17, 2014)
Mexico

a republic in southern North America

Like many countries, Mexico is facing a severe obesity crisis.
—Time (July 16, 2014)
Aztec

a member of the Nahuatl people who established an empire in Mexico that was overthrown by Cortes in 1519

The Aztecs did have dogs, albeit smaller ones that seldom barked, so they would probably have known what they were putting on display.
—US News Dec 31, 2013
Quetzalcoatl

an Aztec deity represented as a plumed serpent

Quetzalcoatl was described by the Mexicans as tall, with a fair complexion, long, dark hair, and a flowing beard.
—Catherine Ann White

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