English Words that Come from Quechua

Quechua, which actually refers to several languages spoken throughout the Andes mountain range, has a total of between 8 and 10 million speakers. It is the most widely spoken indigenous language of the Americas. Here is a list of 15 words that English borrowed from Quechua, and while some of them are specific to a life in the Andes, a few, like the animal names, are fully incorporated into English.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. Andes
    a mountain range in South America running 5000 miles along the Pacific coast
    Ecuador — once known for its crude oil and bananas — is now the Silicon Valley of the tropics, the Singapore of the Andes.
    —Seattle Times July 13, 2014
    From andi, meaning "high crest".
  2. condor
    the largest flying birds in the western hemisphere
    "This is great news. This pair of condors, and their newly-hatched chick, could be a major step toward California condors reestablishing themselves in southern Utah."
    —Reuters July 17, 2014
    From cuntur, The Quechua name for the bird.
  3. vicuna
    small wild cud-chewing Andean animal similar to the guanaco but smaller; valued for its fleecy undercoat
    They also wove, of the fine hair of the vicuña, the hangings of the temples and the garments worn by the Inca and his household.
    —Catherine Ann White
    From wikuna, the Quechua name for the animal.
  4. jerky
    meat cut in strips and dried in the sun
    I’ve developed a tofu jerky recipe that’s nearly as tough as beef jerky.
    —Seattle Times July 13, 2014
    From ch'arki meaning "dried flesh".
  5. llama
    a cud-chewing, South American animal related to the camel
    CHP officers have had to chase chickens, goats and even llamas off Bay Area highways.
    —Los Angeles Times May 19, 2014
    From the Quechua name for the animal, llama.
  6. guano
    the excrement of sea birds or bats; used as fertilizer
    Silverfish, historically part of the penguin diet, each have a signature earbone called an otolith that shows up in penguin guano.
    —Slate Dec 12, 2013
    From huanu, "dung".
  7. puma
    large American feline resembling a lion
    The Florida panther is the last subspecies of puma surviving in the eastern United States.
    —Reuters July 5, 2014
    From Peruvian Quechua puma, the name of the animal.
  8. alpaca
    domesticated llama with long silky fleece
    Alpaca wool is exceptionally soft, but be careful of vendors trying to rip you off.
    —Time Jan 23, 2014
    From Aymara (an indigenous language of Bolivia, Chile and Peru) allpaca, but that in turn contains Quechua p'ake, "yellowish red".
  9. quinine
    a bitter alkaloid extracted from chinchona bark
    Later, cinchona bark was shown to contain quinine, a medicine now proven to kill the parasite that causes malaria.
    —Washington Post Nov 11, 2013
    The Spanish quina is from Quechua kina, referring to the chinchona bark.
  10. chino
    a coarse twilled cotton fabric frequently used for uniforms
    His casual chinos and sneakers belied the seriousness of Monday's reargument for the survivors of human rights abuses.
    —Reuters Sep 30, 2012
    "Chino" can also refer to the usual tan color of the pants, and it's unclear whether the term first designated the color of the pants or the color of a child of one white parent and one Indian parent. It is here, though, that the Quechua connection comes in- china means "female animal, servant", used in reference to the low status of mixed race offspring.
  11. Peru
    a republic in western South America
    Peru is the world's top fishmeal exporter, producing about a third of worldwide supply.
    —Reuters July 4, 2014
    From Quechua pelu, "river".
  12. pampas
    the vast grassy plains of northern Argentina
    The country was a magnet for European immigrants, who flocked to find work on the fertile pampas, where crops and cattle were propelling Argentina’s expansion.
    —Economist Feb 13, 2014
    From pampa, "plain".
  13. Lima
    capital and largest city and economic center of Peru
    An ancient Peruvian funeral shroud dating back to the pre-Inca period has gone on display in Lima after being returned from Sweden.
    —BBC June 16, 2014
    Corruption of Rimak, the name of a Quechuan God, whose name came from rima , "to speak"
  14. quipu
    calculator consisting of a cord with attached cords
    Quipus were knotted ropes invented by the Incas to keep records in their vast storage houses.
    —Seattle Times June 2, 2011
    From quipu, "knot"
  15. Machu Picchu
    Inca fortress city in the Andes in Peru discovered in 1911
    Officials say they have discovered a new trail hidden in the mountain forest leading to the Peruvian citadel of Machu Picchu.
    —BBC Jun 12, 2014
    From Inca Quechua Machu "old man" and Pikchu "peak"

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