quin·​ce·​a·​ñe·​ra | \ ˌkēn(t)-sā-än-ˈyer-ə How to pronounce quinceañera (audio) \
variants: or quinceanera
plural quinceañeras or quinceaneras

Definition of quinceañera

: 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

First Known Use of quinceañera

1964, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for quinceañera

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

Learn More About quinceañera

Time Traveler for quinceañera

Time Traveler

The first known use of quinceañera was in 1964

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near quinceañera



quince curculio

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for quinceañera

Cite this Entry

“Quinceañera.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quincea%C3%B1era. Accessed 28 Sep. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!