• synonyms


  1. an intoxicating beverage distilled from the fermented juice of certain species of agave.
  2. any agave yielding this spirit.
  3. Also called peyote. either of two species of spineless, dome-shaped cactus, Lophophora williamsii or L. diffusa, of Texas and northern Mexico, yielding the hallucinogen peyote.
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Origin of mescal

1695–1705, Americanism; < Mexican Spanish mescal, mezcal, mexcal < Nahuatl mexcalli intoxicant distilled from agave (perhaps equivalent to me(tl) maguey + (i)xcalli something cooked)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mescal

Historical Examples of mescal

  • He has eaten tunas, mescal, pinion nuts, and corn at my hawa.

    The Indians of the Painted Desert Region

    George Wharton James

  • It grows in the valleys, while the mescal grows in the mountains.

    Seven Mohave Myths

    A. L. Kroeber

  • Would you like some aguardiente de pesco, some mescal, or some chica?

    The Adventurers

    Gustave Aimard

  • The peddler called anxiously, "Will you give me some mescal?"

    The Story of Geronimo

    James Arthur Kjelgaard

  • “Your mescal probably killed him,” said Rodrigo indifferently.

    The Missourian

    Eugene P. (Eugene Percy) Lyle

British Dictionary definitions for mescal


  1. Also called: peyote a spineless globe-shaped cactus, Lophophora williamsii, of Mexico and the southwestern US. Its button-like tubercles (mescal buttons) contain mescaline and are chewed by certain Indian tribes for their hallucinogenic effects
  2. a colourless alcoholic spirit distilled from the fermented juice of certain agave plants
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Word Origin for mescal

C19: from American Spanish, from Nahuatl mexcalli the liquor, from metl maguey + ixcalli stew
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 mescal


"plant of the genus Agave," found in deserts of Mexico and southwestern U.S., especially the American aloe, or maguey plant, 1702, from Mexican Spanish, from Nahuatl (Aztec) mexcalli "fermented drink made from agave," from metl "agave" + ixcalli "stew." Meaning "intoxicating liquor from fermented juice of the agave" is attested in English from 1828. Also the name of a small desert cactus (peyote) found in northern Mexico and southern Texas (1885).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper