Definition of cenote in English:



  • A natural underground reservoir of water such as occurs in the limestone of Yucatán, Mexico.

    • ‘Maya tradition also merits them a special place - cenotes are seen as the wellspring of life, an entrance into the afterlife and a point of contact with the gods.’
    • ‘The aptly named Gran Cenote is really several cenotes meandering along the verdant jungle floor and connected by wooden walkways.’
    • ‘The cenote is magnificent: gin-clear water, fine cave formations and the occasional crack above with the green jungle framing a bright blue sky.’
    • ‘A cenote, or sink-hole, is created when the roof of one of these vast caverns collapses.’
    • ‘You can kayak, mountain-bike, dive in a reef or cenote (a water-filled limestone sinkhole unique to the Yucatan Peninsula), or enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving, golfing and tennis, trekking, birdwatching, and deep-sea fishing.’
    • ‘Several of the natural waterholes or cenote within the area of the settlement became sacred places into which offerings were regularly deposited.’
    • ‘But perhaps the best day out was hiring a ‘Herbie’ (VW beetles are still made in their original form in Mexico) to seek out the cenotes, pools formed by underwater rivers.’
    • ‘There should be a hole in the pavement, looks like a cenote.’
    • ‘For example, cenotes of the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico are collapsed depressions, in the base of which groundwater flow is exposed.’
    • ‘Some of the caves contain cenotes, or openings to underground water sources, that the ancient Maya associated with Ix Chel.’
    • ‘In one early scene in the book he is dangling in a harness fifty feet above the water level of an overgrown limestone cenote, or sinkhole, deep in the jungle of the Dominican Republic.’
    • ‘They gave me such bad palpitations and shakes I couldn't actually concentrate on Brazilian hyperinflation or the ritual uses of the cenote in Mayan culture.’
    pool, lake, pond
    View synonyms


Mid 19th century: from Yucatán Spanish, from Maya tzonot.