n. pl. na·chos
A small, often triangular piece of a tostada, topped with cheese and often chili-pepper sauce and broiled.
[From Nacho, nickname of Ignacio Anaya, the maître d'hôtel of a restaurant in Piedras Negras, Mexico, who invented them in 1943.]
Word History: Nachos get their name from Sr. Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya, who invented them in 1943. Sr. Anaya was the maître d'hôtel at the Victory Club restaurant in Piedras Negras, a Mexican city on the Rio Grande. One evening upon the arrival of a large group of guests, Sr. Anaya could not find the chef, so he went into the kitchen to prepare something himself. He took tostadas, grated some cheese over them, and put them under the broiler. When the cheese had melted, he added some jalapeño pepper slices on top and emerged with the first plate of nachos ever made. His creation was a hit and came to be known as Nacho's especiales ("Nacho's specials"), eventually shortened to just nachos. (In Spanish, Nacho is a common nickname for men called Ignacio.) Nachos became quite popular in southern Texas, and somewhat later, in the 1970s, the well-known sports journalist Howard Cosell tasted them. He began to promote them at every opportunity, and the fame of nachos spread across the United States.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
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