hor·​cha·​ta (h)ȯr-ˈchä-tə How to pronounce horchata (audio)
plural horchatas
: a cold sweetened beverage made from ground rice or almonds and usually flavorings such as cinnamon or vanilla
Whatever you order, be sure to accompany it with a cold glass of horchata, the cinnamon-tinged rice milk drink.Francisco Goldman
[food historian Elaine] Gonzalez says it's a coincidence that horchata has evolved into a rice-base drink in the Americas, while Valencia is known worldwide for its rice cultivation. Also interesting, she says, is the fact that some American versions substitute almonds instead of using rice as a base.Maureen Jenkins
Food booths offered not only tacos, carne asada and cool horchata, but specialties from El Salvador, Venezuela and Guatemala.Edward W. Lempinen

Examples of horchata in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Walnut Creek location, which opened April 25, currently has 45 flavors on offer, including options like chocolate cake batter, caramel pretzel crunch, vanilla raspberry chip, graham central station, horchata and buckeye, as well as vegan options and sherbet varieties like pink champagne. Kate Bradshaw, The Mercury News, 26 Apr. 2024 Coffee, strawberries and cream, and horchata, to name a few. Jenna Thompson, Kansas City Star, 28 Mar. 2024 The flavor is sort of a cross between boozy eggnog and horchata. Colleen Weeden, Better Homes & Gardens, 4 Feb. 2024 For example, the Cash and Curry is a creamy milk punch made from gin, sherry, lychee and curry leave, then shaken with a rice-miso-coconut horchata. Kate Dingwall, Forbes, 27 Feb. 2024 Black House Café and new Airbnb reach Indy's horror fans Black House Café opened last month, with drinks like the Never Sleep Again (an almond-milk horchata and espresso mix) and the Booberry (a banana and blueberry smoothie). Rory Appleton, The Indianapolis Star, 12 Jan. 2024 Sanchez highlights the traditional flavors of horchata and jamaica, while also providing unique combinations that maintain authenticity, such as avocado coconut. L. Daniela Alvarez, Better Homes & Gardens, 8 Feb. 2024 The coffee shop is Salvadoran-owned and features a variety of horchata lattes including the Mo-chata latte (a mix off mocha and horchata), MA-Chata latte (a mix of match and horchata) as well as traditional cortado coffee and a Mobar special. Andrea Flores, Los Angeles Times, 31 Aug. 2023 The summer of the horchata latte was when things started to fall apart. Jp Brammer, Los Angeles Times, 27 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'horchata.' 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 Mexican Spanish, going back to Spanish, "sweetened beverage made from tubers of the sedge Cyperus esculentus," probably borrowed from Italian orzata "beverage or infusion made from barley soaked in water, sweet syrup made from germinated barley grains and other ingredients, orgeat," from orzo "barley" (going back to Latin hordeum) + -ata -ade — more at orgeat

Note: Though horchata undoubtedly has some relation to Italian orzata, French orgeat, Medieval Latin hordeātum and cognate words, its precise origin is uncertain. Joan Coromines (Diccionario crítico etimológico castellano e hispánico) acknowledged the possibility that it may be borrowed from Italian, but he pointed out that the expected outcome in Spanish would be *horzata (and additionally, if the source were Occitan, the outcome would likely be *orchate). Coromines was inclined to see the word as going back to an unattested forerunner in the Mozarabic (Romance speech of areas under Moorish rule) of Valencia that passed into modern Catalan and Spanish. A difficulty with this hypothesis, as Coromines recognized, is the late attestation of the Spanish word (the Real Academia Española dictionary of 1726-39); Catalan orxata is attested even later, the end of the eighteenth century. In the Iberian peninsula Latin hordeum "barley" has descendants only in Catalan and the dialects of Upper Aragon and Navarre, the inherited etymon being displaced by Spanish cebada "barley," Portuguese cevada, ultimately from Latin cibus "food."

First Known Use

1824, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of horchata was in 1824

Dictionary Entries Near horchata

Cite this Entry

“Horchata.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/horchata. Accessed 23 May. 2024.

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