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[kuh-kah-oh, -key-oh] /kəˈkɑ oʊ, -ˈkeɪ oʊ/
noun, plural cacaos.
a small tropical American evergreen tree, Theobroma cacao, cultivated for its seeds, the source of cocoa, chocolate, etc.
Also, cocoa. the fruit or seeds of this tree.
Origin of cacao
1545-55; < Spanish < Nahuatl cacahuatl cacao seeds
Can be confused
cacao, chocolate, coca, cocoa, coke. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cacao
  • Yesterday, the featured demonstration was about cooking-or rather, not cooking-with cacao.
  • There is no profit in going to such lengths to buy coffee or cacao, or other alternative crops.
  • Researchers are racing to fortify the embattled cacao tree and to meet increasing demand for cocoa made from its seeds.
  • Bananas, cacao and bee-pollinated crops are all threatened with collapse in part because of their monoculture management.
  • One dessert consists of coconut meat dipped in pungent chocolate that's been coaxed from the seeds of the indigenous cacao trees.
  • He's grown coffee and then cacao, working to help create a positive life for the people on the island.
  • First there was the native cacao tree, from whose fruit chocolate is made.
  • Before the end of the century the same drug would be found in kola nuts and cacao.
  • The city also has a rich tradition based around the numerous coffee, cacao and banana plantations.
  • Travel back in history to understand how the indigenous people take cacao and make it chocolate.
British Dictionary definitions for cacao


/kəˈkɑːəʊ; -ˈkeɪəʊ/
a small tropical American evergreen tree, Theobroma cacao, having yellowish flowers and reddish-brown seed pods from which cocoa and chocolate are prepared: family Sterculiaceae
cacao bean, another name for cocoa bean
cacao butter, another name for cocoa butter
Word Origin
C16: from Spanish, from Nahuatl cacauatl cacao beans


a powder made from cocoa beans after they have been roasted, ground, and freed from most of their fatty oil
a hot or cold drink made from cocoa and milk or water
  1. a light to moderate brown colour
  2. (as adjective): cocoa paint
Word Origin
C18: altered from cacao
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 cacao

seed from which cocoa and chocolate are made, 1550s, from Spanish cacao, from Nahuatl (Aztec) cacaua, root form of cacahuatl "bean of the cocoa-tree."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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