the mexican flag, but not what the first mexicans flew.

the mexican flag, but not what the first mexicans flew.

 (p o: getty images/istockp o)

today’s question:

what is the origin of the name “mexico?” was that what the natives called it before the spanish arrived, or is it some form of a spanish word?

what would you like it to be? there are all sorts of explanations for where the name e from, so you can pretty much take your pick.

here is the most common explanation i e across, although there are several variations of it.


ask clay: what is the origin of nicknames?

the mexica were the tribe that — in union with a few other groups — be e the aztecs, the folks who built an empire and were in charge when the spanish arrived.

why google when you've got clay thompson, our resident guru of random knowledge? email him your questions at [email protected] and check back at for his often hilarious responses.

before they be e big s s, the mexica had been out and about just sort of wandering around, looking for a place to settle.

they finally arrived at a lake with an island, and on the island stood a cactus, and on the cactus was an eagle munching on a snake. that was where they founded tenochtitlán, known today as mexico city.

when the mexica arrived, there were already other people there: the nahua.

they were a little surprised about these newcomers showing up, seemingly out of the blue.


ask clay: basically, you guys, our language is always evolving

so they said their new neighbors had come from aztlan, a name for a mythical place that meant “remote” or “somewhere to the north.”

they also used the word “metztli’’ for moon and “xictli” for belly on and “co’’ for place.

these newcomers e from azdtlan, a remote, faraway place, such as the belly on of the moon.

it all sounds a bit convoluted, but it all adds up to the aztecs living in a place called mexico.

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