language of the Nahuan branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family

The Nahuatl language is a language spoken by 1.5 million people, mostly in Mexico.[3]

Nāhuatl, Nāhuatlahtōlli, Mēxihcatlahtōlli, Mācēhuallahtōlli, Mēxihcacopa
Nahua woman from the Florentine Codex. The speech scroll indicates that she is speaking.
Native toMexico
RegionState of Mexico, Puebla, San Luis Potosi, Veracruz, Hidalgo, Guerrero, Morelos, Tlaxcala, Oaxaca, Michoacán, Chihuahua, Durango,
and immigrants in United States, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Canada
EthnicityNahua peoples
Native speakers
1,740,000 (2010)
Early form
Official status
Official language in
Mexico (through the General Law of Linguistic Rights of Indigenous Peoples)[1]
Regulated byInstituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-2nah
ISO 639-3nci Classical Nahuatl
For modern varieties, see Nahuan languages
Glottologazte1234  Aztec
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.



Nahuatl has existed since the 7th century CE.[4]

The first people to speak Nahuatl were indigenous peoples in central Mexico.[4] The Aztecs[3] and the Toltecs spoke an early form of Nahuatl.

The people of Teotihuacan may have spoken Nahuatl.[source?]

Nahuatl has changed since the end of the Aztec Empire. Over time, many different dialects of Nahuatl have developed. Today, people who speak different Nahuatl dialects do not always understand each other.

The words "Mexico," "Guatemala," and "Nicaragua" all come from Nahuatl.

Use today


Today, most people who speak Nahuatl live in central Mexico. but A few live in other parts of Mexico or in the United States.[3]

Nahuatl is one of the official languages of Mexico.[5] However, most people who speak Nahuatl now also speak Spanish.[3]

Many phrases that are unique to Mexican Spanish come from Nahuatl, according to John Lipski. The unique phrases are called "Mexicanisms." An example is ándale, which often means "let's go." Another example is the word Bueno? and is used by many Spanish-speakers when they answer the telephone.[6]

Nahuatl words in English


Some English words from Nahuatl origin are:[7][a]

  1. See also the English Wiktionary, which lists the origins of each of these words.


  1. "General Law of Linguistic Rights of Indigenous Peoples" (PDF) (in Spanish). Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 June 2008.
  2. "Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas homepage".
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Ager, Simon (2016). "Nahuatl (nāhuatl/nawatlahtolli)". Omniglot. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Suárez, Jorge A. (1983). The Mesoamerian Indian Languages. Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-521-22834-3. OCLC 8034800.
  5. IRIN, [Iniciativa para la Recuperación del Idioma Náhuat] (2004). "IRIN-International homepage". The Nawat Language Recovery Initiative. IRIN. Archived from the original on 20 May 2010. Retrieved 31 March 2008.
  6. Lipski, John M. (2008). Varieties of Spanish in the United States. Georgetown University Press. pp. 88–89. ISBN 978-1-58901-651-4.
  7. "Nahuatl Borrowings in Mexican Spanish Vocabulary". Nahuatl Culture. The Azteca Web Page. Retrieved May 27, 2016.