What Does Mexico Mean?

What Does Mexico Mean?

Mexico comes from the Spanish ?Mxico,? a name derived from the Classical Nahuatl ?M?xihco,? a kingdom that encompassed most of the western shores of Lake Tetzcohco, Lake X?ltoc?n, and Lake Tzompanco, ruled from the famous island on which the twin cities of Ten?chtitlan and Tlatel?lco were established.

The ?x? of M?xihco is pronounced like English ?sh.? The line above the ?e? indicates that it is long (held twice the duration of a normal ?e,? like the difference between the vowels in ?bed? and ?bet?). The ?h? stands for a glottal stop (a sort of hitch in the back of the throat). ?M?xihco? breaks down into the root ?m?xih? and the suffix of place ?-co.? The meaning of ?m?xih? is debated, though if we add the absolute suffix to the root (in order to make it a normal noun), we get something like m?xihtli or m?xitl. But what does that mean? There?s the rub.

Image for postThe aqueduct leading to M?xihco-Ten?chtitlan

However, we may never be certain. So much evidence is now lost to us. The mysticism of the state religion of the Triple Alliance (the ?Aztec Empire?), which burned the original histories of the M?xihcah a century before the Spanish Conquest, had led to many fanciful folk etymologies by the early 16th century, and these have been propagated to the present in the works of colonizers who further erased the past and armchair linguists attempting to discover a mystical meaning for Mexico.


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