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Aztec names in Nahuatl for boys and their meaning

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Ready to choose your little one’s name? At Tips de Madre we know that you are about to make a difficult but also very beautiful decision. Choosing the ideal name for your baby is not easy. That’s why we want to support you, and below we present a list of Aztec names, which belong to the Nahuatl language for your child. We hope you find it very helpful. Let’s go there.

Origin of Nahuatl names for babies

The first thing we will do is learn a little about the role of names in Aztec culture. Definitely the name was not only a system of organization or distinction between people. It was very important because it was believed to talk a lot about the future and the characteristics with which the person was born. There is still much to explore on this issue.

Being so crucial, a single name was not enough, in reality throughout life they were given a new one. The first name they acquired was the “calendrical name“, called tonaltoca. This was acquired once the baby was carried in the presence of the fortune teller, approximately seven days after birth. The parents shared the day and time of birth, information that the fortune teller occupied to provide references about the fate of the child, giving a sign, that is, what would be the future of the child, if he would be hardworking, powerful, important, etc. Although the combination of the name of the day of his birth and the sign was theoretically his first name, they did not usually know him by it. In the same way the fortune teller provided the ideal date for the “lavatorio”, an event very similar to the baptism.

In the “lavatorio” the child was given as such the name by which he would be known. His name in the world “tlalticpactoca”. Days after going with the fortune teller, they were now meeting with the midwife, who was carrying out the event. When it came to men, the woman said the name that the father of the child had chosen, but she did it with a thick tone of voice, simulating a manly voice.

On many occasions if it was an important or renowned family in the community, you had the right to give your child the name of something that had happened or some important event, for example, if a shooting star appeared, they would call it citlalpopoca, which refers to a smoking star, or if an earthquake arose, some hill was washed, etc. they could resume it. It was also common to use ancestor names.

It is believed that months later the boy was presented to a religious temple. In this way there it was given a nickname that was added to the previous one. This was related to the deities. In years to come, dependent on different events in the child’s life, such as the choice of a trade, they were given more names as a way to pay tribute to these activities. Once we’ve known a little about the history that Aztec names represent, it’s time to get to know some of them, along with their meaning.

Aztec names in Nahuatl for children:

  • Ehecatl: A name that in addition to sounding extremely beautiful means “God of the wind”. Ideal for a baby who will be free, full of movement, adventurous and strong. In addition to that it will be named after a very important deity for the Aztecs.
  • Huitzitzilin: This name can be appreciated as neutral, but it is usually more common in men. “Hummingbird.” He is regarded as a protector and messenger of Aztec warriors. It is also like a being full of vitality and beauty.
  • Tenampi: Ideal to represent the greatness, potential and specialness of a baby. As such its meaning is “Son of God”. This name was also taken up after the conquest and adjusted specifically to the religion that the Spaniards brought, so it can also represent a little one who will always be on a path of honesty, love, benevolence and who will be under the protection of God.
  • Quetzalcoatl: Many of us have heard of this name so valuable to the Aztecs. Also known as “feathered serpent”. A being who had his wisdom as his distinctive. The creator of the man of the fifth sun. That is, the era in which we live. Practically the creator and responsible for us being here. First of all this name represents greatness and intelligence.
  • Tonatiúh: “Father sun or sun” The ideal name for a born leader. Someone with a lot of ability, full of humility, goals, tolerance, commitment, charisma and very good communication skills. He was the most worshipped God and to whom they paid the greatest tribute.
  • Ollin Tonatiuh: “The sun of movement”. As we can see, it would refer to the same meaning as the above. But we can add that his movement took on a relevant aspect for the Aztecs. The Sun symbolized life and its trajectory the fight against death. The Aztecs believed that the sun transited between life and the underworld every time it went down.
  • Cipactli: “Crocodile” As we mentioned, this name is related to the symbol that was given to the child according to the day he was born, but in turn it can take on other meanings today. For example, taking up the characteristics of this animal, we can expect its name to represent a little one that adapts easily, strong, bold and retaking part of the Aztec culture, is related to creation and fertility.
  • Cöutli: Eagle. As the previous name refers to an animal of the Aztec calendar. For them it meant above all strength, power and dominance. Let’s not forget that this figure has gained strength over the years, being the symbol that currently represents Mexico and that began the settlement of the Aztecs in Lake Texcoco, in addition to the fact that we cannot forget that this bird represents cunning, freedom, intelligence and precision.
  • Citlalpopoca: “Smoking star” as they used to call what we know as Comet. We speak then of a celestial body full of light, which is leaving its mark in its wake. It can also relate to the birth of the new and the reflection of the past.

We hope that these names can help you in the important search you are doing for your baby. If you are looking for a name that represents part of the Mexican culture and want to know more about this, I also recommend you visit our article of Mayan names for your baby.

Source: Nahuatl Anthroponymy in ancient Mexicans, genesis and survival. Maria de Lourdes Aguilar Salas.

Indigenous names. Veracruz Academy of Indigenous Languages.

Change and evolution of Nahuatl anthroponymy. UNAM. Fernando Orcasitas.


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