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Home > About > Culture > Taino Dictionary
*Words marked with asterisk are still used today in Puerto Rico
One of the most important Caciques before the arrival of Juan Ponce de León whose name means “The Great Sun”.
A celebration consisting of telling a story accompanied by singing and dancing.
Goddess of human fertility and fresh waters.Go to top
Rectangular courts used for playing games and conflict resolution.
Ceremonial game played in the Batey using a solid rubber ball.
Name given to Puerto Rico by the Taínos meaning “Land of the Valiant Lord”.
Round shaped house.
Second highest social class in Taíno society reserved for priests and healers. Bohíques were advisors to the cacique.
Work.Go to top
Village chief and highest class within the Taíno society.
Female tribal chief.
Canoe used for transportation.
A type of bread made out of yucca.
Gods, spirits or ancestors. Also the name given to the physical representations, which were three-pointed sculptures.
Name given to pieces of land dedicated to agriculture.
Tree frog native to Puerto Rico. The name comes from the sound it makes at night.Go to top
Throne or chair used only by the Cacique.Go to top
Gold medallion worn by the Cacique of each tribe denoting leadership.
Singing and dancing or to celebrate.Go to top
The higüera fruit had many uses for the Taínos. When the fruit dries out, it becomes a hard shell and Taínos would make eating utensils, all sorts of containers such as bowls for drinking water, eating and storing food. Also used in the making of maracas.Go to top
Tribe of Arawak indians that inhabited Puerto Rico before the Taínos.Go to top
Hammock used for sleeping or resting.
God of chaos and disorder believed to cause mayhem through weather, particularly through hurricanes. The word for hurricane in Spanish huracán, is derived from the original Taíno term.
Small mangrove-dwelling crab.Go to top
Rope.Go to top
Meaning conch, the snail on the inside was eaten and the shell was used in the confection of trumpet like instruments.Go to top
Ghost or evil spirit.
Musical instrument composed of a round, hollowed out higüera shell filled with seeds and a stick for a handle used in religious rites and celebrations.
Drum made out of hollowed out piece of wood.Go to top
Name used for the working class Taíno. Lowest of the social classes in Taíno society.
Cotton skirt worn by married women.
The second of the four Taíno social classes. Sub-chiefs and noblemen were considered nitaínos.Go to top
Small canoe used for fishing.Go to top
Term used when referring to cotton.
Small pouch made of palm tree filament used in the preparation of casabe bread.Go to top
Name for the furniture that adorned the bohíos.
Name used when referring to sharks.
Taíno word for the sky or heavens.Go to top
Cacique who ordered the drowning of the Spanish soldier Diego Salcedo to prove if he was a god. Before this, Taínos believed the Spanish were immortal.Go to top
Also called Yocahú or Yucajú, Yukiyú was the primary god of the Taínos. The Taíno believed Yukiyú lived in the mountains of El Yunque tropical rain forest.
Contrary to popular belief, the term yuké is actually the one responsible for El Yunque’s name. The term yuké, meaning white land, was used to describe the constant white rain clouds that surrounded the mountains and eventually evolved into Yunque.Go to top