Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations

Ancient Nahuatl Poetry ||| Nahuatl proper names, with explanations

Category: Ancient Nahuatl Poetry


ACALLAN, 105. “The place of boats,” from acalli, boat. An ancient

province at the mouth of the Usumacinta river; but the name was

probably applied to other localities also.

ACATLAPAN, 41. A village southeast of Chalco. From acatla, a place

of reeds, and pan, in or at.

ACHALCHIUHTLANEXTIN, 46. The first chief of the Toltecs; another form

of chalchiuhtonac. Both names mean “the gleam of the precious

jade.” Compare Torquemada, Monarquia Indiana. Lib. III., cap. 7;

Orozco y Berra, Hist. Antigua de Mexico, Tom. III., p. 42. The date

of the beginning of his reign is put at A.D. 667 or 700.

ACOLHUACAN, 40, 91, 119. A compound of atl, water, and colhuacan,

(q. v.) = “Colhuacan by the water,” the name of the state of which

Tetzcuco was the capital, in the valley of Mexico.


ACOLMIZTLI, 35. A name of Nezahualcoyotl (see p. 35), also of other


ANAHUAC, 125. From atl, water, nahuac, by, = the land by the

water. The term was applied first to the land by the lakes in the

Valley of Mexico, and later to that along both the Gulf of Mexico and

the Pacific Ocean.

ATECPAN, 77. “The royal residence by the water” (atl, tecpan). I do

not find this locality mentioned elsewhere.

ATLIXCO, 125. “Where the water shows its face” (atl, ixtli, co). A

locality southeast of Tezcuco, near the lake, so called from a large

spring. See Motolinia, Historia de los Indios, Trat. III, cap. 18.

ATLOYANTEPETL, 85, 89, 91. Perhaps for atlauantepetl, “the mountain

that rules the waters.” But see note to XIII, v. 6.

ATZALAN, 114. “Amid the waters” (atl, tzalan). Perhaps not a proper

name; but two villages in the present State of Puebla are called

Atzala (see Orozco y Berra, Geografia de las Lenguas de Mexico, pp.

212, 213).

AXAXACATZIN, 43. Probably for axayacatzin, reverential of

axayacatl, the name of a species of marsh fly. It was also the name

of the sixth ruler of Mexico (flor. about 1500), and doubtless of

other distinguished persons. See Ixtlilxochitl, HistoriaChichimeca, cap. 51.

AZCAPOTZALCO, 50, 51. An ancient town in the valley of Mexico, once

the capital city of the Tepanecas (q. v.). The word means “place of

the ant-hills,” from azcaputzalli.

AZTECS, 25. A Nahuatl tribe who derived their name from their

mythical ancient home, Aztlan. The derivation is obscure, but

probably is from the same radical as iztac, white, and, therefore,

Father Duran was right in translating Aztlan, “place of whiteness,”

the reference being to the East, whence the Aztecs claim to have

come. See Duran, Historia de las Indias, cap. II.

CACAMATL, 94, 95. The reference appears to be to Cacamatzin (the

Noble Sad One, from cacamaua, fig. to be sad), last ruler of

Tezcuco, son and successor, in 1516, of Nezahualpilli. He was put to

death by Cortes.

CATOCIH, 89. A doubtful word, which may not be a proper name.

CHALCO, 16, 69, 95. A town and lake in the valley of Mexico. The

people were Nahuas and subject to Mexico. The word is probably

derived from Challi, with the postpos. co, meaning “at the mouth”

(of a river). See Buschmann, Ueber die Aztekischen Ortsnamen, s.

689, and comp. Codex Ramirez, p. 18.

CHIAPA, CHIAPANECA, 70, 71. The province and inhabitants of Chiapas,

in Southern Mexico. There were colonies of Nahuas in Chiapas, though

most of the natives spoke other tongues. The derivation is probably

from chia, a mucilaginous seed highly esteemed in Mexico.

CHICHIMECATL or CHICHIMECS, 88, 89, 91, 101. A rude hunting tribe,

speaking Nahuatl, who settled, in early times, in the valley of

Mexico. The name was said to be derived from chichi, a dog, on

account of their devotion to hunting (Cod. Ramirez). Others say it

was that of their first chieftain.

CHICOMOZTOC, 88, 89. “At the seven caves,” the name of the mythical

locality from which the seven Nahuatl tribes derived their origin.

The Codex Ramirez explains the seven caves to mean the seven houses

or lineages (totems) of which the nation consisted.

CHILILITLI, 36. Name of a tower of sacred import. It is apparently a

compound of chia or chielia, to watch, and tlilli, blackness,

obscurity, hence “a night watch-tower.” It was probably used for the

study of the sky at night.

CHIMALPOPOCA, 43. “The smoking shield,” from chimalli, shield, and

popoca. The name of several distinguished warriors and rulers in

ancient Mexico.

CHOLULA or CHOLOLLAN, 105. Name of a celebrated ancient state and

city. From choloa, with the probable meaning, “place of refuge,”

“place of the fugitives.”

CIHUAPAN, 41. Name of a warrior, otherwise unknown. From cihuatl,

woman, pan, among, with.

COATZITEUCTLI, 89. A name compound of coatzin, reverential form of

coatl, serpent, and teuctli, lord.

COLHUA, A people of Nahuatl affinity, who dwelt in ancient times in

the valley of Mexico. See Colhuacan.

COLHUACAN, 88, 89, 91. A town in the valley of Mexico. In spite of

the arguments to the contrary, I believe the Colhua were of Nahuatl

lineage, and that the name is derived from colli, ancestor;

colhuacan, the residence of the ancestors; with this signification,

it was applied to many localities. It must be distinguished from

Acolhuacan. Its ikonomatic symbol was a hill bent over at the top,

from coloa, to bend.

COLZAZTLI, 39. Probably for Coltzatztli, one who cries out or calls

to the ancestors (colli, tzatzia). A chief whom I have not found

elsewhere mentioned.

CONAHUATZIN, 41. A warrior not elsewhere mentioned. By derivation it

means “noble son of the lord of the water” (conetl, ahua, tzin).

CUETZPALTZIN, 89. A proper name, from cuetzpalli, the 4th day of

the month.

CUEXTLA, 33. A province of ancient Mexico. See Torquemada, MonarquiaIndiana. Lib. II, caps. 53, 56.

CULTEPEC, 42. A village five leagues from Tezcuco, at the foot of the

mountains. Deriv., colli, ancestor, tepetl, mountain or town,

with post-pos. c; “at the town of the ancestors.”

HUETLALPAN or HUETLAPALLAN, 89. The original seat of the mythical

Toltecs. The name is a compound of hue, old, and Tlapallan, q. v.

HUEXOTZINCO, 50, 83, 91, 99, 113. An independent State of ancient

Anahuac, south of Tlascala and west of Cholula. The name means “at

the little willow woods,” being a diminutive from huexatla, place

of willows.

HUITLALOTZIN, 89. From huitlallotl, a species of bird, with the

reverential termination. Name of a warrior.

HUITZILAPOCHTLI, 16. Tribal god of the Mexicans of Tenochtitlan. The

name is usually derived from huitzitzilin, humming bird, and

opochtli, left (Cod. Ramirez, p. 22), but more correctly from

huitztli, the south, iloa, to turn, opochtli, the left hand,

“the left hand turned toward the south,” as this god directed the

wanderings of the Mexicans southward. The humming bird was used as

the “ikonomatic” symbol of the name.

HUITZILIHUITL, 89. “Humming-bird feather.” Name of an ancient ruler

of Mexico, and of other warriors.

HUITZNAHUACATL, 91. A ruler of Huexotlan (Clavigero); a member of the

Huitznahua, residents of the quarters so called in Tezcuco and

Tenochtitlan (Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chichimeca, cap. 38).

IXTLILXOCHITL, 35, 46, 89. A ruler of Acolhuacan, father of

Nezahualcoyotl. Comp. ixtli, face, tlilxochitl, the vanilla

(literally, the black flower).

IZTACCOYOTL, 89, 93. “The white wolf.” Name of a warrior otherwise


MEXICANS, 67, 83, 85, 87, 123, 125. See

MEXICO, 83, 123. Name of the town and state otherwise called

Tenochtitlan. Mexitl was one of the names of the national god

Huitzilopochtli, and Mexico means “the place of Mexitl,” indicating

that the city was originally called from a fane of the god.

MICTLAN, 95, 117, 119. The Mexican Hades, literally, “the place of

the dead.”

MONTEZUMA, 14, 41, 113. The name of the ruler of Mexico on the

arrival of Cortes. The proper form is Moteuhzomatzin or

Motecuhzomatzin, and the meaning, “he who is angry in a noble

manner.” (“seсor saсudo,” Cod. Ramirez, p. 72; “qui se fache en

seigneur,” Simйon, Dict. de la Langue Nahuatl, s. v.).

MOQUIHUIX, 33. The fourth ruler of Tlatilolco. He assumed the power

in 1441, according to some writers (Bustamente, Tezcoco, en losUltimas Tiempos de sus Antiguos Reyes, p. 269). The name probably

means “He who comes forth a freeman.” See Ixtlilxochitl, HistoriaChichimeca, caps. 36, 51.

NACXITL TOPILTZIN, 105, 107. Nacxitl, “the four footed” (nahui,ixitl), was the name of one of the gods of the merchants (Sahagun,

Hist, de Nueva Espaсa, Lib. I, c. 19). In the song it is applied to

Quetzalcoatl, who was also regarded as a guardian of merchants.

NAHUATL, (9, etc.). A term applied to the language otherwise known as

Aztec or Mexican. As an adjective it means “well-sounding,” or,

pleasant to the ear. From this, the term Nahua is used collectively

for all tribes who spoke the Nahuatl tongue. Nahuatl also means

clever, skillful, and the derivation is probably from the root na,

to know.

NECAXECMITL, 46. Name of uncertain meaning of a person otherwise


NEZAHUALCOYOTL, 35, 67, 119. Chief of the Acolhuas, and ruler in

Tezcuco from 1427 to 1472, or thereabouts. He was a distinguished

patron of the arts and a celebrated poet. See p. 35, et seq.

NEZAHUALPILLI, or NEZAHUALPIZINTLI, 14, 125. Ruler of Acolhuacan, son

of Nezahualcoyotl. His accession is dated in 1470 or 1472.

NONOHUALCO, 105, 125. Name of one of the quarters of the ancient city

of Mexico; also of a mountain west of the valley of Mexico. The

derivation is probably from onoc, to lie down; onohua, to sleep;

onohuayan, a settled spot, an inhabited place. The co is a


NOPAL or NOPALTZIN, 46. Ruler of Acolhuacan, A. D. 1260-1263,

according to some chronologies. The name is from nopalli, the

cactus or opuntia.

NOPILTZIN, 67, 91. “My son,” or “my lord,” a term of deference

applied to superiors, from pilli, which means son and also lord,

like the old English child. Cf. Topiltzin.

OTOMIS, 16, 49, 58, 64, 71, 95. A nation which inhabited a portion of

the valley of Mexico and region adjacent, entirely dissimilar in

language and appearance from the Nahuas. The etymologies suggested

are unsatisfactory.

POPOCATEPETL, 46. “The smoking mountain,” the name of a famous

volcano rising from the valley of Mexico.

POYAUHTECATL, 105. A volcano near Orizaba (Sahagun. Hist. de NuevaEspaсa, Lib. I, cap. 21). Derived from poyaua, to color, to


QUANTZINTECOMATZIN, 41. A warrior not otherwise known. The name is a

double reverential, from quani, eater, and tecomatl, vase, “The

noble eater from the royal dish.”

QUAUHQUECHOLLAN, 95. A village and plain near the southern base of

Popocatepetl. It means “the place of the quechol woods,” or the trees

among which quechol birds are found. See Motolinia, Historia de losIndios, Trat. III, cap. 18.

QUAUHXILOTL, 89. Name of a large tree, and applied to a warrior,

ruler of Iztapallocan, whom Ixtlilxochitl, King of Tezcuco, placed at

the head of his troops in his war with Tezozomoc. See Clavigero,

Storia Antica di Messico, Tom. I, p. 185.

QUETZALCOATL, 32, 143, 144. See note on p. 143.

QUETZALMAMATZIN, 91. Name of a warrior, “the noble one of the

beautiful hands” (quetzalli, mama, pl. of maitl, and rev. term,

tzin). Perhaps the same as Quetzalmemalitzin, ruler of Teotihuacan,

mentioned by Ixtlilxochitl, Historia Chichimeca, cap. 35.

QUIAUHTZIN, 93. Name of a warrior, “The noble rain” (quiauitl,tziri).

TENOCHTITLAN, 85. The current name for the City of Mexico; literally,

“at the stone-nopal,” from tetl, stone, nochtli, nopal, and

postpos., tlan. The term refers to an ancient tradition.

TEPANECAS or TECPANECAS, 35. A powerful nation of Nahuatl lineage,

who dwelt in the valley of Mexico. They were destroyed in 1425 by the

Acolhuas and Mexicans, and later the state of Tlacopan was formed

from their remnants. Comp. probably from tecpan, a royal residence,

with the gentile termination.

TEPEYACAC, TEPEYACAN, 93. From tepetl, mountain, yacatl, nose,

point, and postpos, c. 1. A small mountain on which the celebrated

church of the Virgin of Guadalupe now stands. 2. A large town and

state subject to ancient Mexico, now Tepeaca in the province of


TETLAPAN QUETZANITZIN, 68, 69. A ruler of Tlatilolco, contemporary of

the conquest. See Note to Song VI.

TETZCOCO, now TEZCUCO, 14, 35, 36, 77. Capital city of Acolhuacan,

and residence of Nezahualcoyotl. It has been called “the Athens of

Anahuac.” The derivation of the name is from a plant called

tetzculli (Cod. Ramirez).

TEZOZOMOC, TEZOZOMOCTLI, 35, 39, 67, 88, 89. A ruler of the

Tepanecas, celebrated for his warlike skill and severity. His death

is placed in the year 1427. The name, like Montezuma, is derived from

zoma, to be angry, in this case from the reduplicated frequentative

form, zozoma.

TIZATLAN, 103. “The place of white varnish” (tizatl), the name of

one of the four quarters of the city of Tlascala.

TLACOMIHUATZIN, 93. “The noble cousin of the lynx” (tlacomiztli,

lynx, huan, postpos., denoting affinity, tzin, reverential). The

name of a warrior.

TLACOPAN, now TACUBA, 135. A small state west of Mexico and subject

to it, built up on the ruins of the ancient Tepanecas. Comp. from

tlacotli, a slave.

TLAHUICAN, 118. A Nahuatl province south of the valley of Mexico, so

called from the cinnabar, tlahuitl, there obtained (Buschmann; but

the Cod. Ramirez gives the meaning “toward the earth,” from

tlalli and huic). [*Transcriber’s note: TLAHUICAN not found in

text. See Tlahuica in Vocabulary.]

TLAILOTLACAN, 140. One of the seven divisions of the city of Tezcuco

(Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chichimeca, cap. 38).

[*Transcriber’s note: TLAILOTLACAN not found in text.]

TLAILOTLAQUI, 84. Literally, “workers in refuse,” or “scavengers.”

Said by M. Aubin to have been a tribe who settled in Tezcuco in the

reign of Quinantzin. The term is apparently one of contempt.

[*Transcriber’s note: TLAILOTLAQUI not found on page 84 in text. See

Tlailotlaqui in Vocabulary.]

TLALMANALCO, 42. A village near the foot of the volcano Popocatepetl.

Derived from tlalmanalli, level ground, with postpos. co.

TLALNAHUACATL, 89. “Dweller on the land;” name of a warrior.

TLALOC, 45. God of rain and the waters; a famous divinity among the

ancient Mexicans. The word means “stretched on the earth,” and the

idol of the god represented a man extended on his back holding a


TLAPALLAN, 105. A mythical land from which the Toltecs were fabled to

have come and to which Quetzalcoatl returned. The derivation is from

tlapalli, color, especially red.

TLATETOLCO, TLATILULCO, 33, 83, 85. A suburb of the ancient city of

Mexico, founded in 1338; from tlatelli, a mound, ololoa, to make

round, the sense being “an island.” See Motolinia, Historia de losIndios, Trat. III, cap. 7.

TLAXCALLAN, now TLASCALA, 89, 93, 103. “The place of bread,” from

tlaxcalli, bread. Site of a warlike tribe of Nahuatl descent, east

of the valley of Mexico.

TLATZIN, 46. Chief of a town of the Chichimecs, situated on Lake

Chalco. He flourished toward the close of the 14th century. From

tlatli, a falcon.

TOCHIN, 89. From tochtli, rabbit; name of the brother of the

Tezcucan ruler Quinantzin, and of many other personages.

TOLLAN, or TULAN, 46, 105, 107. The ancient mythical capital of the

Toltecs. The common derivation from tolin, a rush, is erroneous.

The name is a syncopated form of tonatlan, “the place of the sun.”

TOLTEC, properly TOLTECATL, 46, 111. An inhabitant of Tollan. The

Toltecs were a mythical people, whose civilization was supposed to

have preceded that of the Aztecs.

TOPILTZIN, 46, 105. “Our son” or “Our lord” (see Nopiltzin). The term

was especially applied to Quetzalcoatl, q. v. See Orozco y Berra,

Hist. Antig. de Mexico, Tom. III, p. 54.

TOTOQUILHUATLI, 41. From totoquilia, to act as agent or lieutenant.

Ruler of Tlacopan. The verse of the song in which this name occurs is

given in the original Nahuatl by Ixtlilxochitl, who says it was very

popular throughout New Spain. See his Historia Chichimeca, cap. 32.

XICALANCO, 107. A locality on the borders of the province Tabasco.

The people spoke Nahuatl. Deriv. xicalli, gourd or jar, and

postpos. co.

XICOMATZINTLAMATA, 43. Name of a warrior not otherwise known. The

compound seems to mean “skillful with angry hand” (xicoa, maitl,tlamati).

XICONTECATL, 103. Name of several distinguished Tlascalan warriors,

lords of Tizatlan. See Clavigero, Hist. Antica di Messico, Tom.

III, pp. 38 and 40, One was a favorite of Nezahualcoyotl. See

Ixtlilxochitl, Historia Chichimeca, cap. 40.

XIUHTEUCTLI, 15. The god of fire, literally, “the lord of the year,”

or “of the foliage.”

XIUHTZAL, 46. A queen of ancient Tollan, said by Clavigero to have

ruled from A. D. 979 to 984. Other writers give the name more

correctly Xiuhtlaltzin, “Lady of the Green Fields,” and place her

death in 987. (Orozco y Berra, Hist. Antig. de Mexico, Tom. III, p.


XOLOTL, 46. An early if not the first king of the Chichimecs. His

death occurred in 1232.

YOHUALLATONOC, 89. “Shining at night.” Name of a warrior.

YOPICO, 22. A division of the ancient city of Mexico, containing a

temple of this name. The word means “the place of the tearing out of

hearts” (yolltol, pi, co), from the form of sacrifice there carried


YOYONTZIN, 35, 40, 66, 67. A name of Nezahualcoyotl. See p. 35.

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