mil·​pa ˈmil-pə How to pronounce milpa (audio)
: a small field in Mexico or Central America that is cleared from the forest, cropped for a few seasons, and abandoned for a fresh clearing
: a corn field in Mexico or Central America
: the corn plant

Examples of milpa in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The quail of the little milpas, which is what the Mexicans call their farm fields, are a case in point. Jack O’Connor, Outdoor Life, 2 Nov. 2023 Continue south to Ixtenco, a traditional Otomí community, for lunch in the humble kitchen of the Baltazar family, whose cooking has its roots in the milpa, a pre-Hispanic farming system built around the symbiotic relationship between corn, squash, and beans. Michael Snyder, Travel + Leisure, 9 Nov. 2021 The Maya call this agricultural system milpa, and many other indigenous communities across Latin America have used it under different names. Agostino Petroni, National Geographic, 25 Nov. 2020 But in recent years that traditional knowledge has proved useless: The climate is dramatically changing, and for mothers like Díaz, her milpa had become an unproductive, festering sore. Deepa Fernandes, USA TODAY, 24 Jan. 2018 In years past, Díaz has grown enough fresh produce in the small family farm — called a milpa — to feed her children. Deepa Fernandes, USA TODAY, 24 Jan. 2018 The family’s daily meals come straight from the milpa. Deepa Fernandes, USA TODAY, 24 Jan. 2018 The farmers producing the heirloom beans and corn for Masienda practice the traditional MesoAmerican way of farming, milpa, which rotates corn, beans, and squash on the same land. Mari Uyehara, Bon Appetit, 19 June 2017 See More

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

Word History


Mexican Spanish, from Nahuatl mīlpan

First Known Use

1648, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of milpa was in 1648

Dictionary Entries Near milpa

Cite this Entry

“Milpa.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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