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[ket-sahl] /kɛtˈsɑl/
noun, plural quetzals, quetzales
[ket-sah-leys] /kɛtˈsɑ leɪs/ (Show IPA)
any of several large Central and South American trogons of the genus Pharomachrus, having golden-green and scarlet plumage, especially P. mocino (resplendent quetzal) the national bird of Guatemala: rare and possibly endangered.
a paper money and monetary unit of Guatemala, equal to 100 centavos.
Abbreviation: Q.
Also, quezal
[ke-sahl] /kɛˈsɑl/ (Show IPA)
Origin of quetzal
1820-30; < American Spanish < Nahuatl quetzalli plumage of the quetzal bird Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for quetzal
Historical Examples
  • It vanished, but where it had been another light now burned, for the temple of quetzal was afire.

    Montezuma's Daughter H. Rider Haggard
  • The lion and the tiger roared, and the first bird that sang was the quetzal.

    The Stories of El Dorado Frona Eunice Wait
  • Once for all, let quetzal enlarge his doom; it is sweeter than what you call his love.

    The Fair God Lew Wallace
  • I was speaking about quetzal, I believe, said the old man, when all were fairly on the way.

    The Fair God Lew Wallace
  • Also the quetzal, the imperial bird of the great Indian Quiche race, and the Trogan resplendens.

  • If to-day the Aztec Empire is the strongest in the world, it is owing to quetzal.

    The Fair God Lew Wallace
  • The representation of the quetzal as an entire bird is, after all, comparatively rare.

    Animal Figures in the Maya Codices Alfred M. Tozzer and Glover M. Allen
  • If quetzal was the pabas idol in religion, she was his idol in affection.

    The Fair God Lew Wallace
  • Through the lips of his child, quetzal will speak, and tell you of the day in Cholula.

    The Fair God Lew Wallace
  • On the day of the combat, about the time of the assemblage, I went to the C of quetzal for blessing.

    The Fair God Lew Wallace
British Dictionary definitions for quetzal


noun (pl) -zals, -zales (-ˈsɑːlɛs)
Also called resplendent trogon. a crested bird, Pharomachrus mocinno, of Central and N South America, which has a brilliant green, red, and white plumage and, in the male, long tail feathers: family Trogonidae, order Trogoniformes (trogons)
the standard monetary unit of Guatemala, divided into 100 centavos
Word Origin
via American Spanish from Nahuatl quetzalli brightly coloured tail feather
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for quetzal

central American bird with brilliant plumage, 1827, from Spanish quetzal, from Aztec quetzalli the bird name, literally "tail-feather."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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