Definition of Zapotec in English:



  • 1A member of an American Indian people living in and around Oaxaca in southern Mexico.

    • ‘A major feature of the transnational movement was the formation of ethnic enclaves by both Mixtecs and Zapotecs in major employment centers at destinations.’
    • ‘The Zapotecs are the largest group, comprising more than 90 percent of Juchitans urban population.’
    • ‘The Zapotecs of Mexico believed that the owl was associated with death, in that it gives notice when a man dies before flying off to retrieve his soul.’
    • ‘The Aztecs arrived about 100 years after the Zapotecs did.’
  • 2mass noun The Otomanguean language of the Zapotec, with some 300,000 speakers.


  • Relating to the Zapotec or their language.

    • ‘The Ruiz Bazan clan, for example, has been weaving Zapotec rugs in Oaxaca, Mexico, for as long as they can remember.’
    • ‘I was in the jungle in Mexico, doing my undergraduate thesis on how the Zapotec Indians use plants for medical purposes.’
    • ‘Spanish is a second language to many of region's Zapotec people.’
    • ‘With no affordable alternative, Mixtec and Zapotec families lived for years in labor camps during the harvest season, returning to their native villages in the south when the work was done.’


From Spanish zapoteco, from Nahuatl tzapoteca, plural of tzapotecatl, literally ‘person of the place of the sapodilla’.