One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In Central America and Mexico: a small cultivated field, usually of corn or maize.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in Thomas Gage (?1603–1656), Dominican friar and writer. From Mexican Spanish milpa from Nahuatl milpan from mil- (in milli cultivated field) + -pan (postposition) on the surface of, in, on.
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