1. a member of any of the dominant groups of South American Indian peoples who established an empire in Peru prior to the Spanish conquest.
  2. a ruler or member of the royal family in the Incan empire.

Origin of Inca

1585–95; < Spanish < Quechua inka ruler of the Inca state
Related formsIn·ca·ic [ing-key-ik, in-] /ɪŋˈkeɪ ɪk, ɪn-/, adjectiveIn·can, noun, adjectivepseu·do-In·can, adjective, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for incas


noun plural -ca or -cas
  1. a member of a South American Indian people whose great empire centred on Peru lasted from about 1100 ad to the Spanish conquest in the early 1530s and is famed for its complex culture
  2. the ruler or king of this empire or any member of his family
  3. the language of the IncasSee also Quechua
Derived FormsIncan, adjective

Word Origin for Inca

C16: from Spanish, from Quechua inka king
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 incas



1590s, from Spanish Inga (1520s), from Quechea Inca, literally "lord, king." Technically, only of the high Inca, but it was used widely for "man of royal blood."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

incas in Culture


A Native American people who built a notable civilization in western South America in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The center of their empire was in present-day Peru. Francisco Pizarro of Spain conquered the Inca Empire.

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.