za·​ca·​te | \ zəˈkätē, sə-\
plural -s

Definition of zacate

1 : forage of grassy plants : herbage
2 [ borrowed from Philippine Spanish, borrowed from Mexican Spanish ] Philippines : ricegrass sense 1

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History and Etymology for zacate

borrowed from Mexican Spanish, borrowed from Nahuatl zacatl “dry grass, hay,” going back to Uto-Aztecan *saka-t (whence also Tarahumara sakará “grass for forage,” Southern Tepehuan va-haak “grass stems,” Hopi tuusaqa “grass” and probably Cahuilla sáxa-t “willow tree,” Luiseño şaxá-t “arroyo willow”

Note: The Nahuatl word is thus defined in the Florentine Codex: “Çacatl; icentoca çacatl in xivitl in ovac, in amo tlacotl” (“It is the common name of grass, of the herbs, when dried; not the stalk,” as translated by Charles E. Dibble and Arthur J.O. Anderson; see Florentine Codex: General History of the Things of New Spain, Book 11 - Earthly Things [University of Utah, 1963], p. 196). For further cognates, reconstruction and documentation, see Brian D. Stubbs, Uto-Aztecan: A Comparative Vocabulary (Blanding, Utah: 2011), p. 201.

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