a member of a Nahuatl-speaking state in central Mexico that was conquered by Cortés in 1521.
Also called classical Nahuatl. the variety of Nahuatl that served as the medium of Aztec civilization, aboriginally written in a chiefly pictographic script.Compare Nahuatl(def 2).
the Nahuatl language.

Origin of Aztec

1780–90; < Spanish azteca < Nahuatl aztēcah, plural of aztēcatl person from Aztlān, the legendary place of origin of the Aztecs
Related formsAz·tec·an, adjectivepost-Az·tec, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for aztecs

Contemporary Examples of aztecs

Historical Examples of aztecs

  • Did they resemble the Aztecs in these respects or the West Indians?

    Introductory American History

    Henry Eldridge Bourne

  • The Aztecs, the most powerful tribes, were continually at war with their neighbors.

    Introductory American History

    Henry Eldridge Bourne

  • For in the ruins of the Aztecs of Mexico there are traces of a Phœnician language and religion.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

  • The Aztecs, and the Toltecs before them, had the fermented juice of the maguey plant.

    Aztec Land

    Maturin M. Ballou

  • There the treasures of the Aztecs were hidden, and they have remained.

British Dictionary definitions for aztecs



a member of a Mexican Indian people who established a great empire, centred on the valley of Mexico, that was overthrown by Cortés and his followers in the early 16th century
the language of the AztecsSee also Nahuatl

adjective Also: Aztecan

of, relating to, or characteristic of the Aztecs, their civilization, or their language

Word Origin for Aztec

C18: from Spanish Azteca, from Nahuatl Aztecatl, from Aztlan, their traditional place of origin, literally: near the cranes, from azta cranes + tlan near
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

Word Origin and History for aztecs


1787, from Spanish Azteca, from Nahuatl aztecatl (plural aztecah), meaning "coming from Aztlan," name of their legendary place of origin, usually said to lie somewhere in what is now southwestern U.S.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

aztecs in Culture


A Native American people who ruled Mexico and neighboring areas before the Spaniards conquered the region in the sixteenth century. Starting in the twelfth century, they built up an advanced civilization and empire. (See Hernando Cortés and Montezuma.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.