any of several aquatic salamanders of the North American genus Ambystoma, esp A. mexicanum (Mexican axolotl), in which the larval form (including external gills) is retained throughout life under natural conditions (see neoteny): family Ambystomidae
any of various other North American salamanders in which neoteny occurs or is induced
C18: from Nahuatl, from atl water + xolotl servant, doll
1786, genus of Mexican salamanders, from Spanish, from Nahuatl, literally "servant of water," from atl "water" + xolotl "slippery or wrinkled one, servant, slave" [cf. Frances Karttunen, "An Analytical Dictionary of Nahuatl"].