Bo·​ri·​cua bȯ-ˈrē-kwə How to pronounce Boricua (audio)
variants or less commonly boricua
plural Boricuas also boricuas
: a native of Puerto Rico or a person of Puerto Rican descent
Rita Moreno has been making headlines in the entertainment industry for over 70 years. The Boricua is one of a handful of people who have won an Academy, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy …Mitú
Boricua adjective
or less commonly boricua
Boricua words/literature
Living in this world capital also enabled him to maintain a close cultural proximity with his Caribbean homeland—he never forgot that he was boricua. F. Suro
  • sometimes used postpositively
    an artist Boricua

Examples of Boricua in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the green room, Gluckstein has a photo album in which his much-younger self poses with Jennifer Lopez and Willie Colón, the Boricua salsa music titan. August Brown, Los Angeles Times, 26 Mar. 2024 Ana Macho is inspired heavily by artists like Ariana Grande, Bad Gyal, and the music scene in the Dominican Republic in their process of creating a distinct sound honoring their Boricua roots. Katelina Eccleston, Rolling Stone, 11 Oct. 2023 The couple’s second venture, Vejigantes, sits at the heart of a historic Puerto Rican place: Villa Victoria, an affordable housing community that low-income Boricua residents fought to keep and develop in Boston’s South End. Marcela García,, 12 Sep. 2023 But perhaps the film is also trying to reclaim our tradition with so many Latinos as main characters, actors and talents behind the scenes, including Boricua director Ángel Manuel Soto, Mexican writer Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer and Mexican American actor George López. Rodrigo Cervantes, Los Angeles Times, 14 Aug. 2023 No topping spared Puerto Rico is rich with carts selling hot dogs adorned in the Boricua style. J. J. Goode, New York Times, 14 Aug. 2023 Karol had grown up listening to reggaeton, obsessed with Boricua legends like Ivy Queen and Wisin y Yandel, along with genre-defining mixtapes like El Chombo’s Cuentos de la Cripta series. Isabelia Herrera, Rolling Stone, 14 Aug. 2023 Her namesake, the Boricua revolutionary Lolita Lebrón, fired a gun into the House of Representatives in 1954. Helen Shaw, Vulture, 31 May 2022 Though the Chinese Boricua community makes up a small percentage of the island’s overall population, these Puerto Ricans have generations of history tying them to the territory. Angela Yang, NBC News, 12 May 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Boricua.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Spanish boricua, from Boricua, name for Puerto Rico, alteration of Boriquén, Borinquén, of indigenous origin

Note: According to the Puerto Rican scholar Cayetano Coll y Toste, the variant Boricua is unknown before the 19th century, perhaps first appearing in a Spanish version of the geographical dictionary of Jean-Antoine Letronne published in 1844 (see "Vocabulario de palabras introducidas en el idioma español, procedentes del lenguaje indo-antillano," Boletín histórico de Puerto Rico, tomo 8 [1921], p. 294-351). Coll y Toste assumes an earlier Borique, presumably based on a manuscript version with a lost or unnoticed tilde marking the final nasal consonant. The same tilde issue may be responsible for another early variant, Borinquén. The form Boriquen first appears on the world map (mappa mundi) of Juan de la Cosa, drawn about 1500. Letters written by the physician Diego Alvarez Chanca, who accompanied Columbus on his second voyage, attest Burinquén and Burenquén. The word is presumed to have been taken from Taino, the dominant Arawakan language of the Greater Antilles. Despite Taino's poor state of attestation, attempts to etymologize the word have not been lacking. By assuming that each syllable is an independent lexical morpheme, and attempting to deduce the meaning of the morphemes by their putative occurrence in other geographic names, Coll y Toste came to the conclusion that the name meant "tierras del valiente señor" ("lands of the brave lord") (Colón en Puerto-Rico: disquiciones histórico-filológicas, [San Juan], 1894, p. 138). This method of analysis seems arbitrary, and the etymology must be regarded as fanciful. A more recent hypothesis sees Borinquén as "the People's Homeland" (Julian Granberry and Gary S. Vescelius, Languages of the Pre-Columbian Antilles, University of Alabama Press, 2004, p. 9). However, the authors seem to view Taino place-names in almost the same manner as Coll y Toste, as a sort of syllabic code made up of easily interchangeable tokens; so, for example the name Dabiagua is analyzed as da + bi + ya + wa "Southern Wild Far Country," and Damajagua as da + ma + ha + wa, "Southern Middle Up-Country" (p. 75). As little reference is made to the toponyms or derivational morphology of better attested Arawakan languages—and given that such a system seems remarkable for any attested language—the Granberry-Vescelius etymology cannot be taken seriously either.

First Known Use

1953, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Boricua was in 1953

Dictionary Entries Near Boricua

Cite this Entry

“Boricua.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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