“Avocado” Derives from a Word Meaning “Testicle”

Image Courtesy of ©N. Saum

Today I found out that “Avocado” derives from a word meaning “testicle”.

The word Avocado comes from a Nahuatl Indian (Aztec) word “ahuácatl” meaning testicle. It is thought that the reference is either due to the avocado’s shape or the fact that it was considered to possess aphrodisiac qualities by the Aztecs. In Spanish, “ahuácatl” became “aguacate” and eventually “avogato” and then “avocado”. In English, the fruit was first described as an “Avagato pear” because of its pear-like shape. Later it also became known as an “alligator pear” given the alligator-like appearance to the skin. Over time, the term Avocado became the common word used to describe the fruit in English.

The word “guacamole” also derives from a Nahautl Indian word, namely “ahuacamolli”, which is compounded from “ahuácatl” and “molli”, the latter word meaning “sauce” or “soup”… testicle sauce?  Er… yum?

Bonus Facts:

  • Avocados are a very healthy type of fruit. One serving, which equals around 1/5th of an avocado, is around 50 calories. It has 60% more potassium than a banana and also contains vitamins B and C.  3/4 of the fruit’s calories come from fat. But don’t worry, it’s monounsaturated fat. This type helps lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein), which is the kind of cholesterol you don’t want a lot of. It also is thought to increase HDL (high-density lipoprotein), which is the kind of cholesterol you do want. Avocados also contain a high percentage of fiber which helps us all remain “regular” in our bowel movements!
  • Cholesterol has been getting a bad rap lately. It actually is a very essential component of the human body, in terms of keeping things running smoothly. It helps make up cell membranes, and we need it to make sure these cells have proper permeability (basically the correct amount of give to allow nutrients to cross through the membrane without being too weak to maintain the structure of the cell). It also helps in the making of steroid hormones, vitamin D, and acids contained in our bile ducts. Cholesterol itself is carried throughout our body by helper proteins. The duo are known as lipoproteins. LDL moves cholesterol from your liver to all the cells of the body that need it. HDL carries cholesterol from your cells back to the liver where it can be removed in the form of a waste product. Normally there is nothing wrong with this evolutionarily mediated process. The problem arises when we begin to have too much LDL available for our cells to use and not enough HDL to remove it. This leads to LDL building up inside of our artery walls causing atherosclerosis.
  • Atherosclerosis occurs when cholesterol begins to build up inside the artery walls due to high amounts of cholesterol in your bloodstream. This causes your arteries to become hard and lose their elasticity. Combined with a narrowing of the inside of your arteries this loss of elasticity can cause high blood pressure. The plaque can build up to the point where not enough blood can be moved through the artery causing the tissue downstream to become starved of oxygen and die. Should a piece of the plaque break off it can also travel downstream and block off blood flow to that part of the body. This is a major cause of heart attacks, strokes, or pulmonary embolisms. Unfortunately for men the narrowing of arteries can also lead to erectile dysfunction, and no one is happy about that! …except maybe the folks at Pfizer, makers of Viagra. Buildup of plaque can also cause the walls of the arteries to begin to become weak and lead to a bulge in the vessel known as an aneurysm. These tend to rupture causing internal bleeding. You should just hope that if that happens, the artery isn’t one that resides inside your head or your heart.
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects approximately 18 million US men. 70% of the cases are caused by atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. While seemingly just a nuisance to those not affected, given the fact that sexual activity has been shown to increase a person’s physical well-being, and if done frequently a person’s fitness, this affliction seems to only compound the problem for those with high cholesterol. The other 30% of cases can be caused by a wide number of problems. Some diseases that can cause it include: diabetes, prostate cancer, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons and Alzheimers. Injuries that involve surgery to the pelvis, bladder, spinal cord and penis are also common causes. Alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs can result in ED. There are currently around 200 known prescription drugs that affect ED. Certain types of hormone imbalances have also been linked to ED.
  • There are 13 known vitamins that the body requires for survival. They are vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and 8 types of B vitamins. Avocados contain most of them. One serving of avocado will yield you 4% of your daily needs for vitamins C, E, Potassium, 4 types of B vitamins and 8% of vitamin K. It contains 2% of your daily needs for magnesium and 8% of your dietary fiber. And besides all that, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends them as part of a daily diet.
  • The AHA also recommends that everyone eat a diet that is low in fat content. They recommend limiting saturated fats to less than 7% of your daily calories. They also advised to keep trans fats to less than 1%, and to try and keep your cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day.
  • A McDonald’s Big-Mac contains 540 calories. 260 of them from fat, or 45% of your daily value (DV). It also contains 75mg of cholesterol or 25% of your DV and 1040mg of sodium at 43% of your DV. If you combine that with large French fries at 500 calories of which 220 are from fat. You are already at 83% of the recommended DV for fat. But eat those fries with a smile on your face because they have no cholesterol! If you further consume a large Coca-Cola at 350 calories, you will have reached a grand total of 1390 calories in 1 meal! You could skim 240 calories off of that total by going with their cheeseburger at 300 calories.  Long story short, stay away from McDonald’s! And keep your cholesterol under control, eat more avocados (and for other reasons bananas, which are one of the few “perfect” foods for humans!)  Also, don’t be or stay fat.  This may sound harsh, but there are few things you can do for your health better than not being fat (obviously don’t go the other way and be anorexic either; it’s all about a healthy balance: exercise + eat right with correct portion sizes = healthy you and most likely a longer life.
  • In the US, the avocado is used as a side in main dishes like salads, or dipping chips like in guacamole, and seemingly never as a dessert. Certain other countries don’t hold to those standards. Brazilians have been known to add them to their ice cream, and Filipinos puree their avocados, mix them with sugar and milk, and consume the drink as a dessert.
  • A single Avocado tree can produce as much as 200 pounds of fruit or around 500 avocados. The average, however, is much less at around 60 pounds or about 150 avocados per tree.
  • Approximately 43% of American households buy avocados. 90% of them come from California, which also produces about 80% of the world’s supply of almonds… don’t fall into the ocean California. There are around 5,000 avocado producers in California with the average grove size around 10 acres. Of the 7 varieties of fruit grown in California, the Hass avocado is the most popular at around 95 percent of the total volume produced.
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  • Whats the point of living a long life if you dont enjoy it. I enjoy a big mac and i love being fat… I dont care if i die before reaching 50

  • Too bad the word has roots earlier in proto-aztecan. Just because a later language correlates something, doesn’t mean it’s origin is there.

  • The latest on blocked arteries: its not fat that causes the trouble rather a compound in red meat which
    causes the artery wall to inflame into a pimple this pimple inhibits blood flow.Well that’s this week’s
    thinking anyway.

  • I find the bonus facts quite preachy and poorly written.

  • I can only juggle three avocados at once. 🙁

  • It’s not a bad rap….it’s a bad rep…from reputation 🙂 unless avocados went to prison and have a rap sheet

  • This is incorrect. Rather the natives used to use the word for avocado as slang for testicles. Same way we use the word balls as slang for testicles which doesn’t mean balls is actually the word for testicles. The real word for testicle is atetl. This is further corroborated by the fact that every nahuatl word that uses ahuacatl as a stem word only uses the avocado definition of the word, for example “ahuacacuahuitl” which means avocado tree.

  • Actually saying that “avocado” derives from a word meaning testicle” is quite a misleading statement.
    As every etymology dictionary explains, here “ testicle “ is just a secondary meaning of “ahuácatl”, that **derives** from the name of the fruit, and not the opposite!
    Sexulal names, as it is very common in every human language, are often derived metaphorically from names of common fruits, vegetables, or animals.

    The other explanation, that maybe the fruit was named “testicle” because of the fact that “it was considered to possess aphrodisiac qualities by the Aztecs”, seems a totally arbitrary conclusion as well. One can as well speculate that male chickens owe their English name from the sex term, and invent analogous cheap explanations.

    The idea of a primitive society based on sex, where people pass their time copulating and naming daily objects from their genitals is maybe funny or titillating, but is totally fancy.

  • Maybe the Indians referred to them as testicles because they were nuts about them. Or maybe their kids rolled them around on the floor like balls. I find the possibility that primitive Indians did enough research on the subject of aphrodisiacs pure folly. Maybe someone said “Give me some of those F___ing fruits.” You know how things get started.

  • Repeating this fact contributed to getting Leonard Lopate fired from WNYC.

  • there called testicles because of the way they hung from the tree. side by side one slightly lower than the other. just like……well….. you guess it!