The earliest attestation of the word tequila that we can find is from an 1844 diary entry by American merchant Josiah Gregg while he was exploring, to describe the drink in context of the eponymous region of Jalisco, Mexico, which was renowned for producing lots of high-quality tequila. That was borrowed from Spanish (where it was occasionally also spelled tequilla and tequela), and the Spaniards got the word from the Nahuatl noun tequillan. There are several theories as to where this derives from - proposed translations include "place of work","place of tricks", "rock that cuts", and a diminutive of "breast" - but the most widely accepted meaning is "place of tribute". The term tequila sunrise to describe the cocktail with orange juice and grenadine first started cropping up in 1965, and tequila sour is from 1966.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.