Cinco de Mayo: Words to Celebrate Mexico

Following the Mexican victory over the invading French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, in 1862, Mexican communities in California and eventually the rest of the United States transformed the day into a celebration of Mexican culture, and observance which eventually spread to other states in the U.S. and even to Mexico itself.

Celebrate the day with English words of Spanish origin. How can you not celebrate the culture that brought not only chocolate but vanilla to the English tongue?

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. avocado
    a pear-shaped tropical fruit with green or blackish skin
    Add salsa, lettuce, and avocado slices to top these tacos off.
  2. bodega
    small shop selling groceries, especially in a Hispanic area
    A bodega, too, is where people come together.
  3. burrito
    a flour tortilla folded around a filling
    A deep-fried bean burrito, the bufriedo proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that frying always improves a food.Looking for Alaska
  4. cabana
    a small tent used as a dressing room beside the sea or pool
    You begin swiping through her sunshiny mementos — palm tree, cabana, palm tree, palm tree — when, suddenly, blammo: there’s your friend in her starkers.
  5. cassava
    any of several plants of the genus Manihot having fleshy roots yielding a nutritious starch
    Yearlong staples of the women's diet include rice, a grain called millet, peanuts and cassava.Scientific American (Apr 30, 2014)
  6. chile
    very hot and finely tapering pepper of special pungency
    Customers can request add-ons like egg, pork, roast tomato and chile garlic oil.
  7. chipotle
    a ripe jalapeno that has been dried for use in cooking
    Its campus has a theater with computerized lighting, “green” science labs and a menu offering chipotle lime tilapia and roasted herb chicken.
  8. chocolate
    a food made from roasted ground cacao beans
    I wanted him to stay right where he was, in the inn, drinking hot chocolate while his horse got watered and fed in the stables.
  9. cigar
    a roll of tobacco for smoking
    “According to the story, he lit a cigar and used the same match to light the stamp and burn it,” Mr. Redden said.
  10. cocoa
    powder of ground roasted cacao beans with most of the fat removed
    Salsa, chili powder, and even a bit of unsweetened cocoa add a smoky flavor to the rich pork.
  11. conquistador
    an adventurer
    First the Incas, then the Conquistadores, working the Indians till they dropped.
  12. corral
    a pen for cattle
    Silver also expressed confidence that he’d corral the necessary votes to force Sterling to sell.
  13. cowboy
    a hired hand who tends cattle and performs other duties on horseback
    Give him a horse and a hat and he’d make an excellent cowboy.The Tipping Point
  14. daiquiri
    a cocktail made with rum and lime or lemon juice
    I ordered an Airmail, a sort of fat, swaggering daiquiri made with honey and sparkling wine.
  15. desperado
    a bold outlaw
    Cormac McCarthy chronicles a father and son attempting to survive among desperados in the ashen ruins of modern society.Salon (Apr 13, 2014)
  16. fiesta
    a public celebration or party
    These emerge with great fanfare during the annual Santa Fe Fiesta.
  17. guacamole
    a dip made of mashed avocado
    He adds toasted cumin seeds, which he refers to as “Indian bacon bits,” to his chunky guacamole.
  18. hacienda
    the main house on a ranch or large estate
  19. hombre
    an informal term for a youth or man
    He wrote a story about 'n hombre called Jones, Specimen Jones, that makes me sore from laughin' every time I read it.Titus, Harold
  20. hurricane
    a severe tropical cyclone usually with heavy rains and winds
    Distributed generation could provide electricity to local areas even after a hurricane or other natural disaster.
  21. incommunicado
    without means, right, or desire to be in contact with others
    Then he was held incommunicado for 81 days in 2011, and, since his release, he has been prohibited from traveling beyond Beijing.
  22. iguana
    large tropical American arboreal lizard with a spiny crest
    The population densities of their prey — rodents, howler monkeys, iguanas and leaf-cutter ants — boomed to 10–100 times those on the mainland.
  23. lasso
    a long noosed rope used to catch animals
    A maths equation for a spinning lasso stunt performed by cowboys and cowgirls has been unravelled.
  24. loco
    informal or slang terms for mentally irregular
    Nicknamed " Loco," or crazy, he sat back in a chair and listened to an interpreter through earphones.
  25. macho
    used of men; markedly masculine in appearance or manner
    “There is even this macho sense of getting back on their horse,” he added.
  26. mesa
    flat tableland with steep edges
    We visited a pueblo called Sky City on a mesa hundreds of feet above the desert.
  27. mesquite
    any of several small spiny trees or shrubs of the genus Prosopis having small flowers in axillary cylindrical spikes followed by large pods rich in sugar
    I’d like us to be together, as a family, under the stars, with the mesquite flaming and popping.
  28. mole
    spicy sauce often containing chocolate
    Puebla gets credit for the invention of mole sauce — that would be mole poblano.
  29. nacho
    a tortilla chip topped with cheese and chili-pepper and broiled
    “Because misery loves company, and nachos. And margaritas.”
  30. patio
    usually paved outdoor area adjoining a residence
    An even more appealing feature was the private patio with ocean views.
  31. peccadillo
    a petty misdeed
    Political books can be hot property in the publishing world, with all that juicy gossip about power struggles and personal peccadilloes.
  32. poncho
    a blanket-like cloak with a hole in the center for the head
    The sun beat down; we slathered on bug repellent or, alternatively, pulled on ponchos during sudden rainstorms.
  33. quesadilla
    a tortilla that is filled with cheese and heated
    Cook the quesadillas, flipping halfway through, until they are spotty brown and crisp on both sides.
  34. ranch
    farm consisting of a large tract of land along with facilities needed to raise livestock (especially cattle)
    In later life he retired to his ranch in Solvang, California, where he died on Friday.
  35. renegade
    someone who rebels and becomes an outlaw
    Among their number are a competing pair of bounty hunters, a renegade Confederate soldier and a female prisoner.
  36. rodeo
    an exhibition of cowboy skills
    Ronny, once a dashing young rodeo rider now badly brain-damaged, still looks to the others like his old self sometimes.
  37. saguaro
    extremely large treelike cactus of desert regions of southwestern United States having a thick columnar sparsely branched trunk bearing white flowers and edible red pulpy fruit
    The spa has its own saltwater infinity pool surrounded by canopied sun beds and tall, multiarmed saguaro cactuses.
  38. salsa
    spicy sauce of tomatoes and onions and chili peppers to accompany Mexican foods
    She is a big fan of taco trucks and loves salsa, the spicier the better.
  39. siesta
    a nap in the early afternoon
    Siestas are incompatible with the assembly line or the all-night box store.
  40. sombrero
    a straw hat with a tall crown and broad brim
    Here’s an equally memorable line from the newly surfaced Target document about how to get along with Hispanics: “Not everyone wears a sombrero.”
  41. taco
    a tortilla rolled cupped around a filling
    Add salsa, lettuce, and avocado slices to top these tacos off.
  42. tamale
    corn and cornmeal dough stuffed with a meat mixture then wrapped in corn husks and steamed
    Eugene Hicks, who learned how to make tamales at age 13, has perfected the dish.Southern Living (Apr 29, 2014)
  43. tapioca
    granular preparation of cassava starch used to thicken especially puddings
    Cassava, or tapioca root, is one of the country’s top exports.Slate (Apr 25, 2014)
  44. tequila
    Mexican liquor made from fermented juices of an agave plant
    “He was a little into the tequila,” Wynn said of Clooney during a reportedly heated exchange the two had recently during a group dinner.
  45. tilde
    a diacritical mark placed over the letter n in Spanish
    In an earlier time, when baseball was not yet comfortable with Latino players, he made sure to give Minnie Miñoso his tilde.New York Times (Jul 11, 2010)
  46. tomatillo
    Mexican annual naturalized in eastern North America having yellow to purple edible fruit resembling small tomatoes
    A creamy tomatillo sauce draped the rolled corn tortillas plumped with white meat and cheese.Seattle Times (Mar 27, 2014)
  47. tornado
    a violently destructive windstorm occurring over land
    Tornadoes and other severe weather on Monday resulted in 14 deaths in the state, the agency said.
  48. tortilla
    thin unleavened pancake made from cornmeal or wheat flour
    Tacos are wrapped in warm, freshly pressed corn tortillas.Southern Living (Apr 29, 2014)
  49. tostada
    a flat tortilla with various fillings piled on it
    Regardless, though, I know I’ll be coming back, if only for the Panorama Café tostada lunch special.
  50. vamoose
    leave suddenly
    "Up stakes and vamoose!" shouted one of the men, who had been living on a ranch.Webster, Frank V.
  51. vanilla
    any of numerous climbing plants having fleshy leaves
    Preachy and pretty, “Heaven” is a classy-looking product with a vanilla flavor and a pastel palette.
  52. vigilante
    a person who takes the law into his own hands
    Mexico this week plans to begin to disarm the vigilantes and restore state authority.

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