The chipotle pepper was first discovered by Christopher Columbus in the fifteenth century. After he brought it back to Spain, it rapidly picked up popularity in Europe, but it didn't really get big in America until the fast food chain was founded in 1993 (we can see this from word frequency graphs). The term, along with many others ending in -tl, comes from Nahuatl, in this case from the word chillipoctli, meaning "smoke pepper" (because a chipotle is a smoked jalapeño ). That was composed of chilli, which you should recognize as the etymon for the synonym of "pepper", and poctli, which meant "smoke" and was pronounced with a voiceless alveolar lateral affricate, which is pretty fun. Finally, the nouns are thought to derive from Proto-Nahuan and Proto-Uto-Aztecan, but there is no scholarship reconstructing them.
4/3/2020 12:49:30 am
Actually, scholars have reconstructed chili 'plant' and similarly chili 'shake, rattle' probably because when ripe, the chile plant makes rattling noise and shaking in the wind. It's in my book available on the website above. But don't feel bad, those who know that could be counted on one hand, maybe two fingers. As for *pok-, you may be right. I don't know that anyone has reconstructed that.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.