Adventures Mexico / Travel  / 12 Mayan words you need to learn before going to Yucatan
2 Sep

12 Mayan words you need to learn before going to Yucatan

Mexico is such a diverse country, that when traveling from region to region, it might as well feel like border-crossing traveling. The looks of people, indigenous background, costumes, food, folklore, weather and landscape; are just a few of many things different from state to state.


One of the main features that can be especially hard to adapt to, is the language. Even though the most spoken language of Mexico is Spanish, there are more than X indigenous tongues that are still part of Mexican culture, and when thinking of the Yucatán, is no wonder that several expressions of daily use are based on Mayan words, or are Mayan words on themselves.

But worry no more! Here we bring you a (very) small list with some of the most important Mayan words to keep in mind when traveling to Yucatán:



1. Papadzul


Papa= Food, and Dzul= King or Royalty. It’s used to describe a very traditional Mayan dish made by hard-boiled egg tacos, dressed in a pumpkinseed sauce with a tomato sauce on top. A must try!


2. Sikilpak


This is one of my personal favorite Mayan dish, from Sikil= Pumpkinseed and P’ak= Tomato. It’s a very popular snack made out of ground roasted pumpkinseed and roasted tomatoes, all smashed and mixed with cilantro. Yum!

3. Xnipec


Ever heard of Pico de Gallo? Well, in Yucatán we have our very own version of this sauce. Pickled in Sour Orange juice, it contains tomatoes, white onions, cilantro and habanero chunks. Of course, it is regularly very spicy, leaving you with a drippy nose after you had so much, somewhat similar to a dog… And hence the name… That’s right! Dog’s Nose! Ni= Nose; Pec= Dog.




4. Chichi


This one is very famous all around Mexico, and it designs our always beloved Granny!


5. Kisin


Many times featured in folkloric comedy, this words refers to the popular representation evil, the red devil.



6. Alux


In Mayan mythology, Aluxes the guardian spirits or sprites of the jungle, caves, and other important places in the wild. They are usually depicted as very small childish figures, similar to goblins or gnomes, with a sassy attitude.




7. X’Keken


Used to describe pork. There is a very famous cenote near Chichén Itzá under this name!

8. Tolok


The word used to define the large iguanas native to the region. Uxmal is a great place for spotting them, they love bannanas.

9. Báalam


Jaguar. One of the most sacred animals for the Maya, there’s even a city called after them, Ek Balam, which means Black Jaguar.

10. Xic


This is one of the most used words on regular basis. It means armpit, which is called “axila” in Spanish, but no one calls it that way in the Yucatán.

11. Tuuch


Another one that has virtually replaced its Spanish counterpart in some parts of Yucatán, “Ombligo”, which means Bellybutton.

12. Pirix


A very common word for naughty expressions of disbelief, Pirix can be literally translated to Butt.

The “Yucatán Spanish” slang is very famous in the country, and very hard to follow up even for Mexicans from outside of The Peninsula!



Thinking about coming to Yucatán? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help you planning your trip and show you our beautiful home that is Mexico

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