Mesoamerican natives have been eating chocolate since about 300 BCE, and it therefore is a huge part of their culture. A part that, luckily for the rest of the world, was passed on to the Spanish from them, along with the word , which subsequently diffused into English. The conquistadors got the word from the same source as that of the chocolate -the Aztecs- where, in Nahuatl, it was chocolatl, with the same meaning. Since the language was not recorded at the time, tracing a further origin is difficult, but there are some theories. Most etymologists familiar with the topic believe that the suffix -atl is from the Nahuatl word for "water" (sometimes spelled athl), but the first part of the word is somewhat debated. It could be from the Mayan word chocol (meaning "hot") or Nahuatl xococ (meaning bitter, sometimes spelled xocolli) or Nahuatl chicolli (a cooking utensil), or Nahuatl chicol (meaning "beaten"), or many, many other candidates. Due to the complexity and obscurity of language, we will never know for sure.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd