Nahua literature, poetry, vocabulary w/basic English

Nahua Literature


An attempt against etymology is to talk about an Aztec literature. Great efforts had the prehispanic cultures made to engrave their thoughts either on rock or on paper. We have not be able, though, to discipher their written language. Symbolic ideograms, some very styled and phonetic similar to the Chinese and Japanese Languages, served as a vehicle for their literature.

A very abundant poetic production of popular eloquence existed, treasured in the memory and transmitted from generation to generation. Codes for a moral life and social conduct, codes that parents taught to their children by rule and that at the same time they enclose high precepts as well as beautiful expressions. Sahagún, Motolínea, Ixtlilxochitl, the angry pen of father Durán, and in general all the chroniclers, agree in affirming it.

Collective chanting, almost always accompanied by dancing, or the songs of a poet in a contest, all this generally in the higher classes of society, were institutions so characteristic of those towns as are our books, theaters, and social gatherings. The most important, naturally, was the worship, collective or individual of their divinities.

This abundant production perished in its most part. Nothing else could have happened. The shaking of the conquest discouraged the happiness of the people and displaced their ways of social life. And the missionaries were not as careful in gathering this type of information as they were with the historical information. For some time it remained in the memories and lips of the survivors of the tribes disaster; but little by little for various reasons it kept dying. Just a few persons were left as a remainder of that past, and whose knowledge is of great importance for the study of the national soul in a field so intimate as is poetry.

Some missionaries had the Indians dictate to them, or as it happened with Sahagún, the Indians themselves wrote, under the missionaries' supervision, these kind of chants. In this way the their literature was saved otherwise it would have perished forever.

excerpts from Angel María Garibay K.


NAHUATL POETRY
The following are fragments from different Nahuatl poems What was it that your mind perhaps was finding?
Where was your heart?
That is why you give your heart to every thing;
without direction you take it; you go about destroying your heart.
On the earth, can you go in search of something?
Can it be lived on the Earth?
Not for always on earth: just a little here.
Even though it be jade it breaks,
even though it be gold it breaks,
even though it be quetzal feathering it rips,
not for always on earth: just a little here.
Do we speak something truthful here, Giver of life?
We only dream, we only get up from the dream.
It is only like a dream...
Nobody speaks the truth here...
Are the men truth?
For so our chant is not truth anymore.
What is by luck standing?
What is to come out well?
Do we really speak here, Giver of life...?
Even if emeralds, if fine ointments,
we give to the Giver of Life,
if with collars you are invoked, with the strength of the eagle,
of the tiger,
it could be that nobody says the truth on the earth.
Ayocuan and Cuetzpal speak like this,
that truly know the Giver of Life...
I hear his word there, certainly his,
the rattle bird answers to the Giver of Life.
Go chanting, offer flowers, offer flowers.
Like emeralds and quetzal feathers, are his words raining.
Over there maybe the Giver of Life satisfies himself?
Is this the only truthful thing on the earth?
We only come to sleep,
we only come to dream,
every each spring of the grass, that is how our making is,
it is not true, it is not true that we came to live on the earth,
it comes and sprouts, it comes and our heart opens corollas,
our body gives out some flowers, it wilts!
The night gets drunk here.
Why did you make yourself scornful?
Immolate now, dress yourself with golden clothing!
My god carries water emeralds on his back,
by the middle of the aqueduct is his rest.
Quetzal feathers Sabino,
green serpent of turquoise,
he has done me favors.
May I be delighted, that I may not perish,
I am the young Corn Plant,
an emerald is my heart,
I will see the gold of the water!
My life will be refreshed, 
the firstborn man strengthens,
the one who Leads in the war is born!
My Corn Cob God with the face up high without a motive startles.
I am the young Corn Plant, from your mountains 
I come to see you, I your god. 
Will my life get refreshed?
The firstborn man strengthens, 
the one who leads in the war is born!
Like a wind Lilly the shield turns,
like smoke, the dust lifted,
the whistle with the hands repercutes,
in Tenochtitlan México;
where the place of the Tigers is,
the ones who have the charge of war,
whistle with the hands for the battle.
Ah, the flowers of the Smoking Shield
it is not true, it is not true,
they will never cease, they will never finish!
Though I may cry, though I may worry,
as much as my heart does not want it,
will I not have to go to the Mystery Region?
Here on the earth our hearts say.
Oh my friends! I wish we were immortal,
Oh friends! Where is the land where one cannot die?
Will I go? Does my mother live there? Does my father live there?
In the Mystery Region...My heart trembles,
if I would not die, if I would not perish...!


Nahuatl-English Basic Dictionary

-co. at, in the place of
-pan. on, on top of 
-tica. with, using, through.
-tlan. among, between.
aca. somebody, someone
acattopa. first, in the first place 
achi miecpa. frequently 
achto. first 
achtontli. Great-grandfather, ancestor. 
achtopa. firstly, in the first place
aci. to arrive 
acicamati. To understand 
acicamatl. To understand 
ahuitl. Aunt 
aic. Never
altepepan. At the city 
altepetl. City, town, population
amantecatl. Artisan, 
amatl. Paper, codex (book)
amazolli. Old paper (tradition)
amehuan, amehuantin. You, plural reverential: amehuantzitzin. (pronoun)
ameyalli. Fountain, source.
amini. Hunter
amiqui. Thirsty (adj), to be thirsty.
amo. No
amo cualli. Bad, wrong.
amo ... zan. Not ... but.
amotlein. Nothing 
amoxcalli. Library, also book shelf 
amoxtli. Book
an-. You, plural (prefx).
ana. To take, to grab.
aocmo. Not any more.
aocmo huecauh. In a moment, just a moment.
apizmiqui. Famine, to be dying of hunger.
aquimamatcayoti. Stuborness
aquin. Who (?) plural: aquique.
atenemachpan. Suddenly 
atl. Water. reverential: atzintli. 
atiacuihuayan. Artesian well.
atli. To drink water.
atolli. Atole, drink made of corn.
atonahui. Fever, to have f.
auh. And, but.
axihuayan. Hotel, lodging, sometimes refuge.
axiltia (nite-). To accompany.
axiltia (nitia-). To complete, to fulfill.
axitia. To get close, to come closer. 
axixcalli. Restroom (sanitary)
axixmiqui. To have the need to go to the restroom.
ayamo. Not yet.
ayaxcanyotica. Slowly.
ayohui. Easyly, easy. 
ayotl. Turtle, tortoise.
azcatl. Ant.
azo zan. perhaps (?), maybe (?).


cíhuatl. Woman, female. plural: cihuah. 
ca. To be. Because. plural: cate.
ca ye cualli. All right, OK.
cahua. To leave (release an object)
cahuitl. Time.
calacoayan. Door (THE door).
calaqui. To come in, to get inside.
calli. House. Also used as generic buildings.
calmanani. Architect. 
calpolli. Tribe.
caltentli. Door.
camachaloa. To open one's mouth.
camactli. Mouth.
camanallahtoa. To joke.
camapaca. To wash one's mouth.
camapotoniliztli. Bad breath.
camatl. Mouth.
campa. Where (?).
can. Where (?), plural: canin.  
caqui. To hear.
catca. Was, were.
caxtiltecatl. Spaniard.
caxtolli omei. Eighteen.
caxtolli once. Sixteen.
ce. One.
ce. One of  (when followed by a pronown).
cecemilhuitica. Daily, Every day.
cemanahuatl. World, universe (figurative).
cemiac. Always, for ever.
cempanahuia. To exceed, to surpass, to outdo.
cempoalli. Twenty. 
cenca. Very. 
cenca cualli. Very well 
cenquizca. Perfectly, completely
cenyohual. All night
chantli. House. (home).
chia. To wait. past: ochix.
chicahuac. Healthy, strong, tough, hard. plural: chicahuaque.
chicnahui. Nine
chicoace. Six.
chicome. Seven.
chicuey. Eight.
chihua. To do. 
chihuilia. To do (to someone).
chipahua. To clean.
chiquihuitl. Basquet.
choca. To cry, weep. plural: chocah.
chocolatl. chocolate.
choloa. To flee, to run away.
choquilia. To cry, weep. 
choquilitzatzi. To cry, bawl.
choquiltia. To make someone cry.
ciciammicqui. Tired, fatigued.
cihtli. Grandmother. Hare. plural: cicihtin.
cihuapillahtocatzintli. Queen.
cihuapilli. Lady, princess.
citialin. Star.
ciyahui. To get tired.
coatl. Snake. plural: cocoah.
cochcahua. To let sleep
cochcayotl. Dinner
cochehua (nite-). To awake, awaken.
cochi. To sleep. plural: cochih.
cochiantli. Dormitory.
cochihuayan. Bedroom.
cochitlehua. To dream. "Seeing in your sleep".
cochitta. To dream. "Seeing in your dream". Visions (mystic).
cochmiqui. Sleepy, to be sleepy, drowsy.
cocoa. To hurt (suffer pain).
cococ. Hot, spicy.
cocotona. To dismember, destroy, demolish.
cocoxcacalli. Hospital.
cocoxcacalpan. At the hospital. 
cocoxqui. Sick, diseased. 
cohua. To buy, purchase.
colli. Grandfather. plural: coltin.
coloti. Scorpion.
comalli. Flat pan (for cooking)
comitl. Cooking pot. 
conetl. Child, kid. pl:ural coconeh.
coni. To drink.
copina. To extract. (to get one thing out from another)
cotona. To cut.
cua. To eat.
cuacuahuitl. Horn, antler.
cuahuitl. Tree, log.
cuaitl. head. (used only in comosite words).
cualli. Good (adverb).
cualli ic. Good (adjective).
cuallotl. Goodness.
cuauhmaitl. Branch.
cuauhmayoh. That has branches.
cuauhtla. Woods, forest.
cueitl. Skirt.
cueponi. To grow.
cueyatl. Frog.
cuica. To sing.
cuicani. Singer.
cuicatl. Song.
cuico. Singing.
cuicoa. Singing.
cuicuizcati. Swallow (bird).
cuix. Maybe, could it be...
cuix ye huecanh. Has it been long since… (?).


eiehuia. To wish. To desire.
etl. Beans.


hualhuica. To bring, fetch.
huallauh. To come. past: ohualia.
hualmonochilia. To call (ask someone to come).
hualquiztia. To go out. Future.
hualtepotztoca. To follow (someone).
hueca. Far, distant.
huecauhtica. For a while, for some time (short).
huehca. Far.
huehue. Old. plural: huehuetque.
huehuetlahtolli. Old word. Cultural legacy, tradition, culture.
hueitlamahuizoltica. Wonderfully
huel. Right, well. Is used as 'can' with another verb in future tense. 
huelic. Tasty, good.
hueltiuhtli. Sister.
huetzca. To laugh.
huetzi. To fall down.
huexolotl. Turkey.
huica. To take (something-someone to another place).
huilotl. Pigeon.
huiptla. The day after tomorrow.
huitzitzilin. Hummingbird.


i. To drink
ic. That's why, because.
ica. With.
ica paquiliztli. Gladly.
icalixpan. In front of someone's home
ichantzinco. In someone's home, to someone's home. 
ichcatl. Lamb.
ichpochtli. Young woman. plural: ichpopochtin.
iciuhca. Quickly, Fast.
icniuhtli. Brother, friend.
icnotl. Poor.
icpalli. Chair, stool.
icuac. When. While.
icuitlapan. Behind.
icxitl. Foot.
ihcuiloa. To write.
ihcuilotic. It is written that
ihtoa. To talk, to say.
ihuan. And.
ihuicpa. From.
ilhuia. To tell.
ilhuicatl. Sky, heaven. ilhuicac.- At the sky, at heaven. 
imacaci. To fear, to be afraid.
in aquin. The one who - .
in canin. Where. At.
in ihuicpa. From
in oquic. While.
in oyuh. Once that - , as soon as - 
in quenin. How.
in tiein. The one that, the one which.
in xochtl in cuicatl. Poetry, poem.
in yuh. Like, as.
inech  monequi. It's necessary.
inin. This.
iniquein. These.
iniqueon. Those.
inon. That. 
intia. If.
intzalan. Between.
ipan. On, on top of.
itech calli. Inside the house.
ititl. Belly.
itqui. To take, to carry. 
itquin. When (?). 
itta. To see.
itzcuintli. Dog. plural: itzcuintin.
ixcueloa. To nod (say yes wuth the head).
ixmati. To know. past: oquixmat.
ixquich. Every, everything, all.
ixtelolotl. Eye.
izcatqui. Here is -, this is it.
iztac. White.
iztitl. Finger nail.
ma. To hunt.
ma xipatinemi. May you be well, farewell.
maca. To give.
macamo. Negation. macamo xitequipacho = do not worry.
macehualli. Commoner, not of the nobility.
machiotil Signal. reverential: machiotzintli.
machtia. To teach, to show.
macuilli. Five.
macuilli ic. Fifth.
maitl. Hand.
maiahua. To slip.
maquixtia. To save, to release, to set free.
mati. To know.
matlactli. Ten.
mauhcatlayecoani. Coward.
maxitia. To come closer, to get closer. (from moaxitia).
mayana. Hunger, to be hungry.
mazatl. Deer. plural: mamazah.
mehua. To get up, to stand up.
melahuac. Straight.
metlatl. Grinding stones.
metzli. Herb.
meztli Moon. Month.
mexicatl. Mexican.
michin. Fish.
mictia. To kill.
mihtoa. It is said that.
millacatl. Farmer, country laborer.
miqui. To die.
mitz-. - you, to you.
miztli. Puma, cougar.
mizton. Cat.
mocactia. To put shoes on.
mocahuilia. To leave (something)
mocehuia. To rest.
mocentlalia, To gather, reunite.
mochantia. To reside, to live at.
mochi. Everything, all. plural: mochintin.
mochihua. To happen (an event).
mochihua. To become, to turn into.
mochipa. Always.
mocochcayotia. To dine, have dinner.
mococoa. To be sick.
mocuepa. To transform oneself, to turn into.
mohuelmati. To feel good.
molcaxitl. Grinding stone (for salsa).
momaquilia. To give.
momaquixtilia. To free, to liberate.
momatequia. To wash one's hands.
momauhtia. To be frightened.
momayahui. To throw oneself.
momotzoa. To rub, massage.
momoztlae. Daily, every day. 
monamictia. To marry.
monequiltia. To love.
mopopolhuilia. To forgive.
moquetza. To stand up.
motenehua. One's name, to be called (used as a verb). 
motlalia. Sit on, to be placed at
motlaquentia. To get dressed.
motlatoa. To run.
moyetztica. To be. Plural, reverential: moyetzicate.
moztla. Tomorrow 
nacatl. Meat.
nacayotl. Body.
nacaztli. Ear.
nahualli. Warlock, witch.
nahuatia. To command, to order.
nahuatlahtolli. Nahuatl language.
nahuatlatoltica. In nahuatl language.
nahui. Four.
nalquiza. To pass, pass by.
namaca. To sell.
namictli. Husband, wife.
nanquilia. To answer, to respond.
nantli. Mother. plural: nantin. Reverential: nantzintli.
ne, nehua, nehuatl. I, me.
nech-. To me.
neci. To appear (materialize).
nehnemi. To walk.
nelhuayotl. Root, base, foundation.
nemachtiloyan. School.
nemi. To live.
nenepilli. Tongue.
nequi. To want.
ni-. I, me (as a prefix).
nican. Here.
niltze. Hello (!).
niman. Later, afterwards.
nimanic. Right away, now.
nimitzittaz. I'll see you.
nixtamalli. Corn paste for tortillas or tamales. 
no. Also.
nocenyeliz. My family.
nochtli. Cactus (nopal).
nohuan. With me.
nohuican. Also, too.
noihuan. Also, too.
notza. To call someone, to talk with someone.
notzontecon. My head.
noyuhqui. Also, too.
nozo. Or, either.

oc. Still, yet.
oc achi. More. A little more.
oc cequi. Another. plural: oc cequin.
oc yohuatzinco. Very early, at dawn.
occe. Another.
occe tlamantli. Something else, one more thing.
occepa. Again.
occequi. Another. plural: occequintin.
ocelotl. Jaguar.
ocnamacoyan. Bar, liquor store.
ocuilin. Worm, maggot.
ohtli. Road, way, trail.
ohualla. Came.
ome. Two.
ompa. There.
oni. To drink.
onimitzittac. I saw you.
onimitzittacca. I had seen you.
opoch. Left (side).
oquichtli. Male. plural: oquichtin.
otiacicoh. We have arrived.
oztotl. Cave.
oztoc: In the cave.

paca. To wash.
pactia. To please, to give pleasure.
pahcalli. Drugstore.
pahpiani. Pharmaceutic (profession).
pahti. To cure
pahtia. To cure
pahtli. Medicine.
palehuia. To help.
paltic. Wet.
panoltia. To invite someone in.
papaca. To wash.
papalotl. Butterfly.
papatlaca. To tremble, to shiver, to shake.
paqui. To be happy.
patlani. To fly.
patzca. To squeeze, to juice.
pehua (ni-). To start, to begin.
pehua (nic-). To win, to triunph.
petlatl. Bed.
pilli. Son.
pilli. Noble, prince.
piltzintli. Son. (Reverential)
pitzahuac. Thin,. plural: pitzahuaque.
pitzotl. Pig.
pochtecatl. Merchant, salesperson.
poctli. Smoke.
pohua. To count, to read.
popoca. To smoke.
potoni. To stink, to smell bad.


quema. Yes.
quenin. How (?)
quenin otimohuicac? How did it go ?.
quezqui. How much? How many?
quilmach. It is said, they say.
quimichin. Mouse.
quin axcan. Recently, a short while ago.
quin tepan. Later, afterwards.
quiyahui. To rain.
quiyahuitl. Rain.
quiza. To go out.
quizaliztli. Migration, departure.


tahtli. Father. plural: tahtin. reverential: tahtzintli.
tamalli. tamal.
te, tehua, tehuatl. You. reverential: tehuatzin.
tech-. We, to us.
teci. To grind.
tecolotl. Owl.
tecuani. Wild beast.
tecuhtli. Lord. plural, reverential : tecuhtzintli.
tehuan, tehuantin. We, us.
Teica ?. Why ?.
tel. But.
telpochcalli. College, university.
telpochtli. Boy, young man. plural: telpopochtin.
temachtiani. Teacher, tutor. plural: temachtianimeh, reverential: temachticatzintli.
temamauhti. Horrible, terrifying, scary. plural: temamauhtique.
temazcalli. Steam bath.
temo. To descend, to go down.
temoa. To look for.
teneyeyecoitiliztli. Temptation.
teniza. To breakfast.
tennamiqui. To kiss.
tentli. Lip. Edge, border.
tentzontli. Moustache, whiskers.
teocalli. Temple.
teocuitlatl. Gold (literally, wonderful waste).
teopixqui. Priest. plural: teopixque.
teotl. Wonderful, awesome. Terrifying. To some scholars, God. 
teotlac. Afternoon, during the afternoon.
tepahtiani. Doctor, medic, healer.
tepec. Hill.
tepehuani. Conquistador.
tepepan. At the hill, in the wilderness.
tepetl. Mountain, volcano.
tequipachoa. To worry.
tequipanoa. To work, to labor.
tetl. Stone, rock.
texocotl. Tejocote (small winter fruit).
texocotzopelloti. Tejocote jam, preserved tejocotes.
ti-. You (singular). Us (subject prefix). 
ticitl. Doctor, medic, healer.
titlani. To send.
tlaca. Afternoon. Late.
tlacachihua. To procreate, to have children.
tlacamati. To obey.
tlacamatli. Obeyance.
tlacatecolotl. Devil.  Literally "Afternoon Owl", "Owl man". 
tlacatilia. To get pregnant, conception.
tlacatl. Person. plural: tlacah. Reverential: tlacatzintli.
tlachia. To look, to see.
tlachpana. To sweep, To broom.
tlacua. To eat, to feed.
tlacualchihualoyan. Kitchen.
tlacualli. Food.
tlacualoyan. Diner, dining room.
tlacualtia. To feed, to give food.
tlahtlacolli. Offense.
tlahtli. Uncle.
tlahtoa. To talk, to speak.
tlahtoani. King. plural: tlahtoanime.
tlahtocayotl. Kingdom, state, nation.
tlahtolli. Language, tongue, Word, speech.
tlahtoque. Nobles, princes.
tlahuilli. Light.
tlalia. To put.
tlalticpac. At or on the earth.
tlamachtilli. Pupil. plural: tlamachtiltin.
tlamaneloa. To swim.
tlamatini. Wise person, wisdom. plural: tlamatinime.
tlami. To finish. past: otlan.
tlaneci. Dawn.
tlanequiliztli. Will, willpower.
tlantli. Tooth.
tlaocoya. Sad, to be sad.
tlaolli. Corn.
tlapaloa. To greet.
tlapalotiuh. To go to greet someone.
tlapoa. To open.
tlapopolhuia. To forgive.
tlaquemitl. Clothes.
tlathui. Dawn.
tlatla. To burn.
tlatlacalhuia. To offense, to insult.
tlatlani. To ask (a question).
tlatlatilcuahuitl. Firewood.
tlatquitl. Patrimony.
tlatzacuillotl. Door (THE door).
tlatzomia. To meow.
tlaxcalchihua. To make tortillas.
tlaxcalli. Tortillas, bread.
tlaxcalmana. To make bread.
tlaza. To bring down, to knock down.
tlazocamati. Thanks, Thank you.
tlazohtla. To love.
tlazolli. Garbage, waste.
tle inic amo. Why not ?.
tle ipampa. Why ?.
tleca. Why ?.
tleco. To climb, to go up.
tlecuil. Stove.
tlecuilco. On the stove.
tlecuilli. Stove, cooking fire.
tlen. What.
tletl. Fire.
toca. To sow.
toca. To bury.
tocaitl. Name. reverential: tocatzintli.
tocatl. Spider.
tochtli. Rabbit.
toltecatl. Wise one, Science man, Knowledgeable.
tonalli. Day.
tonehua. To hurt, to suffer pain.
totechmonequi, totech monequi. We need.
totolayotl. Chicken soup.
totolin. Turkey.
tototl. Bird.
tozquitl. Throat.
tzatzi. To scream, to shout.
tzontecomatl. Head.
tzontli. Hair.
tzopelic. Sweet.


xayacatl. Face.
xihuitl. Herb. Leaf. Year.
xinachtli. Seed.
xiquipiltontli. Bag.
xitomatl. Tomato.
xocoyotzin. The smallest, the youngest.
xonacatl. Onion.
xoncalaqui. Get in (!). 
xoxoctic. Green.


yacatl. Nose.
yancuic. New.
yauh. To go.
ye. Ready, done.
ye tlaca. It's late.
ye, yehua, yehuatl. He, she, it. reverential: yehuatzin.
yec. Right (side).
yeccaqui. To understand, to comprehend.
yeceh. Though, nontheless.
yectenehua. To bless, to sanctify.
yectli. Good, beautiful, pretty, nice. plural: yeyectin.
yehuan, yehuantin. They. reverential: yehuantzitzin.
yei. Three.
yetiayohuac. It's night, It's late.
yohuac. Night.
yohualtica. At night.
yolcatl. Insect.
yoli. To live.
yollotl. Heart.
yolpaqui. To be happy.
yuhquin. Like this, this way.


zan niman. Right away, immediately.
zan tepitzin. Just a little. exp
zatepan. later. adj 
zatlatzonco. lastly, finally. con 
zayolin. fly (the insect). sus 
zazanilli. story, tale. sus 
zolin. codorniz. sus 
zoquipan. in the mud. exp 
zoquitl. mud. sus
zoquiyo. muddy. exp

Nahuatl Place-names & Glyphs

Some Nahuatl Placenames

Oaxaca (Uaxacac)
This glyph represents Oaxaca (name of a state in Mexico) whose real name in Nahuatl was Uaxacac which means "Place where the "guaje" vegetables begin. Uax(in) is the word for "guaje" a type of vegetable and yáca(tl) means nose, extension, point, or beginning. The -c at the end is a location suffix which denotes a place name.
Toluca (Tollocan)
This glyph represents Toluca (capital of the state of Mexico) whose real Nahuatl name was Tollocan which means "Where the head is bowed down." Tol(oa) means to bow the head and means nose, extension, point, or beginning. This name required a suffix variant -lo used in name that ends in the letter L. The -can at the end is a location suffix which denotes a place name. This suffix is used after suffixes that end in -yo or -lo.
Tlaxcala (Tlaxcallan)
This glyph represents Tlaxcala (a state capital city and a state in Mexico) whose real Nahuatl name was Tlaxcallan which means "Where there is an abundance of tortillas." Tlaxcal(li) means tortilla and it can also mean food. -lan is location suffix (variant of -tlan) and denotes an abundance of.
Tenochtitlan
This glyph represents Tenochtitlan (what is now Mexico City) which means "Where cactus grows from the rocks." Tetl means rock and Nochitli means nopal or cactus. -lan is location suffix (variant of -tlan) and denotes an abundance of.


Certain suffixes are very common in placenames of Mexican Native or of Nahuatl origin. Some of them are: -tlan (place near an abundance of...), -co or -c (place), -tepe-c (hill-place), -yan (place), -pa(n) (on), and -can (place). A few examples follow, with the stems of the Nahuatl words and their English meanings.

-TLAN (place near an abundance of ...)

     
    Placename        Stem             English Gloss           
                                                                            
    Acatlan          acatl            reed                                    
    Acaxochitlan     acatl-xochitl    reed-flower                             
    Ajuchitlan       atl-xochitl      water-flower                            
    Camotlan         camotli          sweet potato                            
    Cihuatlan        cihuatl          woman                                   
    Coatlan          coatl            snake                                   
    Colotlan         colotl           scorpion                                
    Epatlan          epatl            skunk                                   
    Huehuetlan       huehue (teotl)   old (god)                               
    Mazatlan         mazatl           deer                                    
    Ocotlan          ocotl            pine tree                               
    Tecolotlan       tecolotl         owl                                     
    Teocuitlatlan    teotl-cuitlatl   god-excrement                           
    Tepoztlan        tepoztli         iron or metal                           
    Tototlan         tototl           bird    

-CO or -C (place)

    Placename        Stem             English Gloss                         
                                                                                                                                                  
    Acapulco         acatl-pol        reed-thick                              
    Atotonilco       atl-totonil      water-heated                            
    Jalisco          xalli-ixtli      sand-face                               
    Mexico           metl-xictli      maguey cactus-navel                     
    Teotlalco        teotl-tlalli     god-earth                               
    Zacualco         tzacual          closed       

-TEPE-C (hill-place)

    Placename        Stem             English Gloss                         

    Acaltepec        atl-calli        water-house (canoe)                     
    Coatepec         coatl            snake                                   
    Chapultepec      chapulin         grasshopper                             
    Ecatepec         ecatl            wind                                    
    Jocotepec        xocotl           sour, fruit                             
    Ocotepec         ocotl            pine tree                               
                                                           
     In the following  examples, if  the suffixes  are given  in the     
short list above, they are not repeated.  Otherwise, all elements of     
the placenames are enumerated.                                           
                                                                                                                                                  
    Placename        Analysis         English Gloss                    
                                                                                                                                                  
    Acapulco         acatl-pol-co     reed-thick                         
    Cuernavaca       cuahuitl-nahuac  tree-near                          
    Hueyapan         huei-atl         big-water                          
    Iztaccihuatl     iztac-cihuatl    white-woman                        
    Michoacan        michin-hua-can   fish-haver-place
    Popocatepetl     popoca-tepetl    smoke-hill                         
    Tuxpan           tochtli          rabbit                             
    Xochimilco       xochitl-milli    flower-field
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