Pronouncing Aztec words

The Aztecs spoke Nahautl, a Mesoamerican language still spoken by 1.5 million people today. Many Mexican place names are derived from Nahautl terms. Nahuatul has also given us many English words, including chocolate, avocado and axolotl.

Nahatul sounds

  • H – hw
  • Qu – pronounced k before e and i, but kw before a and o
  • qua and quo, pronounced kw
  • que and qui – ke and key
  • x – sh
  • z – s
  • c – hard c before a, o or u and soft s before e and i

Nahuatl wordPronunciation guide

Tenochtitlán
(Aztec captial city)

Teh-notch-tit-lan

Mēxihcah
(the Aztec people)

Meh-she-ka
Names of Aztec deities

Tezcatlipōca
(god of destiny and war)

Tes-kat-lee-poh-ka

Quetzalcóatl
(god of wind, wisdom and creation)

Ket-sal-koh-atl

Xochipilli
(god of music, spring and flowers)

Show-chuh-pil-ee

Chalchiuhtlicue
(goddess of rivers and lakes)

Chal-chuh-weet-lee-kway

Chicomecóatl
(maize goddess)

Chee-koh-meh-koh-atl

Xipe Tótec
(god of spring and renewal)

She-pay Toh-tek

Huitzilopochtli
(god of war)

Weet-sil-oh-pocht-lee

Coyolxauhqui
(Huitzilopochtli’s sister)

Koy-ol-shah-oo-key

Tláloc
(god of rain)

Tla-lock

Xiuhcóatl
(god of fire and time)

She-oo-koh-atl

Mixcóatl
(god of hunting and war)

Mish-koh-atl

Coatlicue
(the mother of gods)

Koh-at-lee-kway

Mictlantecuhtli
(god of the dead)

Mict-lan-teh-koot-lee

Mictecacíhuatl
(goddess of death)

Mict-eh-ka-see-wah-tl

Cihuateotl

See-wah-tay-otl

Tlaltecuhtli

Tlahl-tay-koot-lee

Xiuhtecuhtli
(god of fire and time)

She-oo-tay-koot-lee

Ometochtli
(god of drinking)

Oh-me-tocht-lee

Yacatecuhtli
(god of merchant travellers and commerce)

Ya-kat-eh-koot-lee

Ehécatl Quetzalcóatl
(god of wind)

Ee-eh-katl Ket-sal-koh-atl

Xilonen
(goddess of young corn)

She-low-nen
Names of things and objects

cuahxicalli
(stone vessel)

kwah-she-kah-lee

tepetlacalli
(casket)

teh-pet-la-kah-lee

macuahuitl
(weapon)

ma-kwah-weet-il

temalacatl
(spindle stone)

teh-ma-la-kah-tl

tlachtli
(ball game)

tlatch-tlee

quetzal
(bird)

ket-sal

xicahuaztli
(sunbeam)

she-ka-wahst-lee

cuicacalli
(school)

kwee-ka-kah-lee

omexicahuaztli
(rasp)

oh-meh-she-ka-wahst-lee

calmécac
(school for nobles)

kahl-may-kak
Photograph of a yellow plastic Tyranasaurus Rex