[zap-uh-tek, zah-puh-; Spanish sah-paw-tek]
noun, plural Za·po·tecs, (especially collectively) Za·po·tec for 1.
  1. a member of an American Indian people living in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.
  2. the Oto-Manguean language of the Zapotecs, consisting of a number of highly divergent dialects.
  1. Archaeology. of or relating to a Mesoamerican Indian civilization of the Oaxaca region of Mexico c600 b.c. to a.d. 1000, characterized by a bar-and-dot system of enumeration, a calendar of Mayan derivation, ball courts, and underground frescoed tombs.

Origin of Zapotec

< Mexican Spanish zapoteco < Nahuatl tzapotēcah, plural of tzapotēcatl person from Tzapotlān (tzapo(tl) sapodilla + -tēcatl suffix of personal nouns, -tlān locative suffix) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for zapotec

Historical Examples of zapotec

  • The Zapotec language is still spoken by about 260 natives in the State of Oajaca.

    Man, Past and Present

    Agustus Henry Keane

  • He was a young man, an indian in the usual dress, apparently a Zapotec.

  • It will be remembered that this town is Zapotec, Coatlan being the last Mixe town.

  • He has already published a grammar of the Zapotec, as spoken in his village.

  • The women dress much like the Zapotec women in the neighboring towns.

British Dictionary definitions for zapotec


  1. Also: Zapotecan (ˌzæpəʊˈtɛkən, ˌzɑː-) plural -tecs or -tec any member of a large tribe of central American Indians inhabiting S Mexico, esp the Mexican state of Oaxaca
  2. the group of languages spoken by this people
  1. Also: Zapotecan of or relating to this people or their language

Word Origin for Zapotec

from Spanish Zapoteca, from Nahuatl Tzapoteca, literally: people of the land of the sapodillas, from tzapotl sapodilla
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