Beyond Words - Language Blog

Etymology of "Chocolate"

Before the word chocolate came into the English language from Spanish, Hernan Cortes learned of a potent Aztec beverage made with cacahuaquchtl powder (the origin of the word “cocoa”), chili, musk, and honey. In a 1519 expedition to the New World, Cortes received a friendly reception from the Aztecs of Tenochtitlan (present-day Mexico City), who offered him the beverage tchocoatl. In the Nahuatl language of the Aztects, tchocoatl is derived from two words that mean “bitter water”: xocolli and atl.

Another linguistic thread in the story of chocolate links the Nahuatl word chicol-li, a type of beating stick used in cooking, with the preparation of a frothy chocolate beverage. The original name of this drink may have been chicolatl, meaning “beaten drink.”


  1. Since growing up, chocolate was an occasional treat and it still is to this day, everything in moderation, but one cannot deprive themselves from a treat. I love chocolate nonetheless now reading this article and the history of Swiss and Belgian chocolate the craving has come back first in a year. I can go without for up to a maximum of five years and does not bother me but I do like a hot chocolate every now and again. Thank for the etymology of chocolate

  2. Pingback: the wonder bean | the chocolate maven

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