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na·cho (nächō)
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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 ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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