The Aztec civilization ruled central Mexico in the 15th century. As a warring people, the Aztecs took great pride in having strong warrior names that not only invoked fear in their rival communities but paid tribute to the Aztec god or goddess to whom the warrior in question owed allegiance.
In many cases, the names given to the warrior or warrior caste had multiple meanings, both obvious and hidden.
To say the Aztecs were fierce would be to understate the matter. Aztec warriors frequently raged brutal wars not just in an attempt to conquer and annex new regions and lands to their massive Aztec empire but also to find captives and bring them to their capital city of Tenochtitlan as human sacrifices to their gods.
Capturing and transporting what would be human sacrifice victims to the capital city was considered one of the greatest honors an Aztec warrior could achieve.
As such, Aztec warriors were divided into castes or ranks depending on their experience, skill, and prowess on the battlefield. Each of these units bore a different name, symbolizing their skill level, symbolizing the god to whom they owed allegiance.
Aztec Warrior Caste Names
Here are some of the most feared Aztec warrior caste names.
The Jaguar Warriors
The Aztecs believed that Tezcatlipoca, the god of the night sky, was reincarnated in the form of a jaguar and, as such, was symbolized by the big cat. The Jaguar Warriors were allies of Tezcatlipoca. They just so happened to be the most accomplished Aztec military caste. The Jaguar Warriors were dressed in costumes resembling a jaguar’s skin.
To be a Jaguar Warrior, one had to be extremely good in battle. This unit was comprised of only the most skilled. This unit comprised only the most skilled, experienced, or battle-hardened warriors and was the most elite fighting unit in the Aztec military.
The Jaguar Warriors were responsible for capturing and delivering the most human sacrifices. To be considered a member of the Jaguar Warriors, one was expected to deliver at least 12 enemy combatants for sacrifice in two consecutive raids or battles.
The Eagle Warriors were the second-most elite and almost on par with the Jaguar Warriors as a fighting caste in the Aztec military. The Eagle Warriors owed their allegiance to the god Huitzilopochtli, symbolized by the Aztec Eagle.
The eagle was one of the most significant animals in Aztec culture, as they believed that the god, Huitzilopochtli, reincarnated as an eagle, guided the Mexica people, from whom the Aztecs descend, to their capital city and home.
The Eagle Warriors, therefore, dressed as eagles, with their costumes comprising claws complete with a beaked headdress. This costume was even adorned with eagle feathers believed to give the warriors magical powers such as superhuman speed and strength.
Like the Jaguar Warriors, the Eagle Warriors were an elite military caste charged with espionage. They acted as scouts and even waged battle on the frontlines. Some of the most daring fighters rivaled the Jaguar Warriors in terms of captured enemy numbers.
The Shorn Ones
Probably even braver and better than the Jaguar Warriors, the Shorn Ones were an elite Aztec military caste made up of the bravest of the brave. To even be considered for a position in this military unit, one had to show extraordinary courage, skill, and bravery in battle.
The Shorn Ones, also known as cuauhchicqueh in classical Nuahtal, the language of the Aztecs, had shaved heads and carried long braids. Their motto was “never step back in battle.” The Shorn Ones, therefore, did not know how to retreat.
The Tlamanih were yet another type of warrior in the Aztec culture. This Nuahtal name meant “captor” and was reserved for any warrior who had captured at least one enemy combatant for human sacrifice to the Aztec goddesses or gods.
Just above the Tlamanih, the Cuextecatl were Aztec warriors who captured at least two enemy combatants for human sacrifice. They were typically identified by their conical hats.
This title was given to Aztec warriors who captured at least three enemy combatants for human sacrifice. Papalotl in Nuahtal means butterfly and these warriors wore the butterfly symbol.
There are theories that the Otomies, although technically Aztec warriors and considered part of the empire’s military force, weren’t exactly Aztecs but warriors that formed part of the allied forces—probably warriors conscripted into battle from conquered lands.
Individual Aztec Warrior Names
The above-mentioned Aztec names represented the various military units. As you can see, they were mostly given names based on Aztec gods, revered animals, and, in many cases, Mesoamerican culture.
The same trend carried over into individual names. Let’s take a quick look at some strong individual Aztec names and their meanings.
Rare Aztec Name
The Aztec people were known as Nahuatl or Tenochtitlan after their classical language and capital city. Tenochtitlan used to be where Mexico City stands today, and outside of Mexico, you will find it difficult to find Aztec names. That being said, if you still want a rare Aztec name for your baby, how about going for:
Sanse: Pronounced “san-say,” this is a gender-neutral or unisex name that directly translates to “unique” in classical Nahuatl.
Note: While the names mentioned here represent Mesoamerican culture, you can find even rarer names simply using this Aztec translator.
Aztec Princess Names
These are for people interested in beautiful Aztec baby names. While there technically were no Aztec princesses, there were ladies born into nobility who were treated as Aztec princesses. Some of the most common names for Aztec princesses include:
- Huitzilxochtzin or Atotoztli: Pronounced “weet-seel-sho-ch-tzin” or “ah-toe-tosch-tlee”. There are a lot of rumors surrounding Atotoztli II. She was the daughter of Aztec Queen Chichimecacihuatzin I and Aztec Emperor Moctezuma I, making her one of the most powerful Aztec princesses descended from royalty. Historians now believe that she might have ruled over the Triple Alliance of the three Nahuatl cities, although her reign might have been omitted from the common historical records.
- Siuapilli: Pronounced “see-oo-ah-pilli,” this means “princess” in the classical Nahuatl language.
- Azcaxochtzin: Pronounced “ahs-cahsh-oh-cht-seen,” she was the Queen of Tepetlaoztoc, which is now in Central Mexico, and was one of the few female Aztec rulers.
Strong Aztec Girl Names
Like the corresponding boy names, there are many unique Aztec baby girl names. You can choose from strong Aztec warrior names for your baby girl, or you could choose to look for something a bit more delicate—one that represents an Aztec goddess or is inspired by nature.
Here are some of the most unique traditional Nahuatl girl names and nicknames.
- Atlacamani: Pronounced “atlah-kah-mah-nee,” this is an Aztec goddess name after the goddess of storms. This name was frequently given to Aztec baby girls who arrived in this world screaming like thunder.
- Chalmecacihuilt: Pronounced “chal-meh-kah-see-weelt,” is a rather dark Aztec baby girl name, as Chalmecacihuilt was the Aztec goddess of the underworld.
- Chicomecoatl: Pronounced “chee-meh-koh-aht” in classical Nahuatl, Chicomecoatl means “seven snakes,” and it also belonged to the Aztec goddess of corn and sustenance.
- Chantico: Pronounced “chan-tee-Koh,” this is yet another strong Aztec baby girl name. It was reserved for baby girls born with a streak of red hair, as Chantico was the Aztec goddess of fire. It also meant “she who lives in the house.”
- Chimalma: Pronounced “chee-mal-mah”, this is one of the strongest baby girl Aztec names on this list. It means “shield-bearer,” and baby girls with this name were believed to be protectors of the family.
Strong Aztec Baby Boy Names
For the most part, the names of Aztec boys used to be based more on nature and cultural objects than flowers, goddesses, and religion, like the baby girl names.
With that in mind, here are some of the strongest and most meaningful baby boy names in the Aztec language.
- Chicahua: Pronounced “chee-ka-wah”. If you are looking for a strong Aztec baby name, you can’t possibly do any better than a name that means “strong” in the Aztec language.
- Ahuatzi: Pronounced “ah-wayt-see,” this is one of the most common Aztec boy names and one of the strongest. In the Nahuatl language, it stands for “small oak tree.”
- Atlatl: Pronounced “at-laht.” This is a popular Aztec warrior name meaning “spear-thrower.”
- Camaxtli: Pronounced “kah-masch-tlee” or “kah-maz-tlee”. This is a wonderful, strong Aztec name that has several strange meanings. Not only was it the name of the god of the hunt, but it also stood for “without deer sandal.” A good nickname for this would be Max or Maz.
- Chimalley or Chimalli: Pronounced “chee-mah-lee”, this is the boy opposite of the Aztec girl name “Chimalma.” Chimalli means “shield.”
- Cipactli: Pronounced “see-pak-tlee.” This is one of the toughest Aztec boy names. In Nahuatl, Cipactli means “crocodile.”
- Guatemoc: Pronounced “gwah-teh-mok.” The Aztecs revered the eagle. Not only did they believe that the eagle was the reincarnation of the Aztec god, Huitzilopochtli, who guided them to their home city, Tenochtitlan, but they also believed the eagle to be a symbol of the sun’s journey across the sky, and governed their entire existence. Guatemoc is a very strong Aztec boy name meaning “diving eagle” or “falling eagle.” It was reserved for boys, who would be expected to have their eyes on the prize just like a diving eagle often comes up with its prey clutched in its talons. This name could also be spelled alternatively as Cuathemoc, Guatimozin or Cuauhtemotzin.
- Ilhicamina: Pronounced “eel-hee-kah-mee-nah”. This is yet another strong Aztec warrior name, which stands for “one who shoots arrows at the sky” or “he who hunts the sky.” It’s the perfect name for babies who were expected to have their sights set high.
- Itzcoatl: Pronounced “eets-koh-aht.” This was the name reserved for boys born with jet-black hair. It means “obsidian serpent.” It’s also a name with a rich history, as it was the name of one of the greatest Aztec rulers.
- Matlalihuitl: Pronounced “maht-lah-lee-weet,” meaning “green-blue feathers,” this is a strong cultural name as feathers were highly revered in Aztec society. This name showed great respect for the Aztec culture.
These are just some of the rarest or most unique Aztec warrior names you could give your precious little ones. If you want to give yourself a nickname or find out what Aztec name you may have had, a good place to start is by calculating your birthdate using the Aztec calendar and then finding a distinguishing personal trait and combining the two.