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[az-tek] /ˈæz tɛk/
a member of a Nahuatl-speaking state in central Mexico that was conquered by Cortés in 1521.
Also called classical Nahuatl. the variety of Nahuatl that served as the medium of Aztec civilization, aboriginally written in a chiefly pictographic script.
Compare Nahuatl (def 2).
the Nahuatl language.
Origin of Aztec
1780-90; < Spanish azteca < Nahuatl aztēcah, plural of aztēcatl person from Aztlān, the legendary place of origin of the Aztecs
Related forms
Aztecan, adjective
post-Aztec, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for aztecs
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Anciently, it had been to Europe what cotton was to the Mexico of the aztecs.

    The Iron Ration George Abel Schreiner
  • They were from a feudalistic world and tried to portray the aztecs in such terms.

    Adaptation Dallas McCord Reynolds
  • They know nothing of their kinship with the aztecs but believe that they originated in Southern California.

    Picturesque Pala George Wharton James
  • It was common also among the aztecs, but they used “picture writing.”

  • The aztecs held pipes and flutes in great respect, and they were played at all religious ceremonies.

  • And yet this is the picture-writing of the aztecs, with which the world has been so edified for centuries.

    Mexico and its Religion Robert A. Wilson
  • The special aim of this work is to deny utterly the civilization of the aztecs.

  • Did they resemble the aztecs in these respects or the West Indians?

    Introductory American History Henry Eldridge Bourne
  • Thus disappeared, as suddenly as it had risen, the phantom of a second Empire in the realm of the aztecs.

    Mexico Susan Hale
British Dictionary definitions for aztecs


a member of a Mexican Indian people who established a great empire, centred on the valley of Mexico, that was overthrown by Cortés and his followers in the early 16th century
the language of the Aztecs See also Nahuatl
of, relating to, or characteristic of the Aztecs, their civilization, or their language
Word Origin
C18: from Spanish Azteca, from Nahuatl Aztecatl, from Aztlan, their traditional place of origin, literally: near the cranes, from azta cranes + tlan near
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for aztecs


1787, from Spanish Azteca, from Nahuatl aztecatl (plural aztecah), meaning "coming from Aztlan," name of their legendary place of origin, usually said to lie somewhere in what is now southwestern U.S.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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aztecs in Culture

Aztecs definition

A Native American people who ruled Mexico and neighboring areas before the Spaniards conquered the region in the sixteenth century. Starting in the twelfth century, they built up an advanced civilization and empire. (See Hernando Cortés and Montezuma.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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