quin·​ce·​a·​ñe·​ra ˌkēn(t)-sā-än-ˈyer-ə How to pronounce quinceañera (audio)
variants or quinceanera
plural quinceañeras or quinceaneras
: a celebration of a girl's fifteenth birthday that is traditionally observed in Latin American cultures to mark her transition to adulthood
Long before the All-American Sweet Sixteen parties hit the birthday planning circuit, the Latin community was celebrating the 15th birthday of their young female family members with the tradition-filled quinceañera. Originating from the Aztec culture around 500 B.C., the quinceañera focuses on the importance of religion, family, music, food and dance to honor the transition from a young girl to a young woman.Tara Bradley Connell
The Mexican and Central American custom—known as a quinceanera—was Sonia's way of telling friends and relatives: "I am no longer a girl. Today I am a woman."Claudia Puig
also : the person for whom a quinceañera is held
The Rev. Marshall Gorley smiled kindly at the nervous quinceanera. He asked if she was ready. She dropped her eyes and nodded shyly. Claire Martin

Examples of quinceañera in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Suddenly, when Lisa was 14 -- a year before the quinceanera, when planning should be ramped up, not down -- my extended family went into radio silence. Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, 24 Feb. 2023 Two weeks before her 15th birthday, Lisa sent me an invitation for her quinceanera! Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, 24 Feb. 2023 Favoring black clothes and manga comics, the last thing Suyapa wants is a fancy quinceanera for her 15th birthday. Lauren Morgan, EW.com, 12 May 2022 Dear Amy: My daughter is going to be celebrating her quinceanera this summer. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, 13 June 2021 There are quinceanera dresses, religious artifacts and traditional Mexican crafts, among the many items for sale, said Irais Miranda, a vendor at the shopping mall for 14 years. Laura Rodríguez Presa, chicagotribune.com, 21 Sep. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'quinceañera.' 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 American Spanish, "girl celebrating her fifteenth birthday," noun derivative from feminine of Spanish quinceañero "of fifteen years, fifteen-year-old," from quince "fifteen" (going back to Latin quīndecim, contracted from *quīnquedekim, from quīnque "five" + decem "ten") + año "year" (going back to Latin annus) + -ero -ary entry 2 — more at five, ten, annual entry 1

First Known Use

1964, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of quinceañera was in 1964

Dictionary Entries Near quinceañera

Cite this Entry

“Quinceañera.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quincea%C3%B1era. Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

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