Definition of quetzal in English:



  • 1A bird of the trogon family, with iridescent green plumage and typically red underparts, found in the forests of tropical America.

    Genus Pharomachrus, family Trogonidae: five species, especially the resplendent quetzal (P. mocinno), the male of which has very long tail coverts and was venerated by the Aztecs

    • ‘The Maya used these pathways to transport precious goods - such as jade, obsidian, pyrite, and quetzal feathers - from highland to lowland city-states.’
    • ‘Mexico is home to toucans, vultures, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, parrots, macaws, and quetzals.’
    • ‘Peak breeding of quetzals corresponded to the period of highest availability and species richness of fruiting Lauraceae, and breeding was delayed in years when the availability of fruit was relatively low.’
    • ‘The elaborate overall ornament is in the Moorish tradition, while the details of the decoration - chrysanthemums and long-tailed birds, possibly quetzals - are derived from Chinese porcelain examples and local fauna respectively.’
    • ‘The quetzals have nowhere to go, so they nest in tree cavities within easy reach of the toucans who feast on quetzal eggs and chicks.’
    • ‘A quetzal sits upon a branch, yet this species of trogon is not found outside the Mexican and Central American cloud forests.’
    • ‘Overall, the book does a fine job of summarizing the available information on trogons and quetzals but the work is somewhat uneven.’
    • ‘The museum pipes in the sound of howler monkeys, quetzals, and parrots.’
    • ‘You can take flight to Central Park in New York City and watch the hawks migrate south from Belvedere Castle, or you can take flight to Latin America and the Caribbean to find a colorful quetzal in Costa Rica.’
    • ‘At Volcan Baru, the country's most visited national park and its highest elevation, catch a glimpse of the quetzal or toucan.’
    • ‘Guatemala's national symbol of independence and pride is the quetzal, a brilliantly colored tropical bird native to Central America.’
    • ‘He had even seen keel-billed toucans, also from lower elevations, breeding side-by-side with the symbol of the cloud forest, the resplendent quetzal.’
    • ‘On the center band is a coat of arms with a green-and-red quetzal, the national bird.’
    • ‘Experienced guides can help you spot the resplendent quetzal, emerald toucan, green sea turtle, and howler monkey.’
    • ‘Together with biologist Robin Bjork, Powell pioneered the use of radiotelemetry to discover the seasonal movement patterns of the resplendent quetzal, and he was able to adapt the device to the macaws.’
    • ‘This cloud forest is home to the elusive tapir and jaguar, as well as one of nature's most beautiful birds, the resplendent quetzal.’
    • ‘The deal will also fund programs in the zone containing the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve, home to quetzal birds, manatees, and hundreds of other animal species.’
    • ‘The even-spreading noon sun was accompanied by mocking cries of the fringed quetzal from the forests around the plantation.’
    • ‘Or I can try something cooler by immersing myself in the cloud-enshrouded virgin forest of Braulio Carillo National Park - a great place to observe bird-watchers delighting in the trogons and quetzals.’
    • ‘Also, despite the lack of standardized color illustrations, collectors of the books on families of birds will enjoy this book as well, because the trogons and quetzals are an inherently interesting group.’
  • 2The basic monetary unit of Guatemala, equal to 100 centavos.

    • ‘He offered the teachers a 100 quetzal monthly bonus - a fraction of the teachers' demand for a doubling of their current wages.’
    • ‘The Guatemalan unit of currency, the quetzal, is named for the Guatemalan national bird.’
    • ‘The 82 air traffic controllers are demanding raises of 5,000 quetzal monthly, or about US $630.’
    • ‘I am standing in line to exchange my dollars for quetzals; so is Angela.’
    • ‘Photo booths are open from 6am in the morning onwards, and Experts on ‘how to fill out your visa form’ hover, ready to offer invaluable advice in exchange for a quetzal, a cigarette, a smile.’


Early 19th century (in quetzal (sense 1)): from Spanish, from Aztec quetzalli ‘brightly coloured tail feather’.