The tamale is a popular food in Mexican cuisine, made of cornmeal dough that's filled with meat or cheese and wrapped in a cornhusk before being steamed. If you have the chance, you should definitely try some tamales.

Traditionally, the cornhusk (or banana leaf) wrapper was used as a plate for eating the warm tamale, and these delicious savory treats are often still eaten this way today. The starchy masa (or cornmeal) that's used in tamales becomes firm after being steamed, and this makes it a perfect portable meal. The word tamale comes from the Mexican Spanish tamal, which has a Nahuatl root, tamalli, meaning "wrapped."

Definitions of tamale
  1. noun
    corn and cornmeal dough stuffed with a meat mixture then wrapped in corn husks and steamed
    see moresee less
    type of:
    a particular item of prepared food
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week