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From Classical Nahuatl Motēuczōma (he who frowns like a lord), from mo- (reflexive prefix) + tēuc- (lord) + -zōma (to frown in anger).[1]

Proper noun[edit]


  1. Aztec emperor from 1440 to 1469.
  2. Aztec emperor from 1502 to 1520, during which time the Spanish conquest of Mexico began.
  • 1604, Jose de Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the East and West Indies
    Moteçuma therefore, having notice of this Captaines victories, that he advanced for his conquest, that hee was confederate and ioyned with them of Tlascalla, his capitall enemies, ...
  • 1655, J. Phillips (translator), The Tears of the Indians
    Departing from Cholula they came to Mexico, the King whereof Montenchuma sent the Peers and Nobles of this Realm with innumerable presents to meet them, who all the way testified by several sports and solemnities, the joy which they had for their arrivall; When they approached neer the wal of the City, the Kings Brother came forth with many Noble men to meet him, who brought many gifts of Gold and Silver, to present them with.
  • 1795, John Adams, A View of Universal History, from the Creation to the Present Time
    Montezuma heard of his progress, without daring to oppose it.
  • 1811, Robert Kerr, A General History of Voyages and Travels to the End of the 18th Century
    Tendilli sent immediate intelligence to Muteçuma, that there had arrived in his country a bearded people, for so they called the Castilians. On the reception of this news, Moteçuma was greatly troubled, for his gods, or devils rather, had revealed that a people of the description of these Spaniards was to overthrow his law and dominion, and to become lords of the country; wherefore Muteçuma sent gifts to the value of twenty thousand ducats to Cortes, but refused any interview.
  • 1835, Robert Charles Sands, The Writings of Robert C. Sands
    At length the King of Tezcuco was notified of her resurrection; and, on his representation, Moteuczoma himself, full of terror, visited her with his chief nobility.
  • 1847, John Macgregor, The Progress of America
    Moctezuma was still detained a prisoner, but treated with great outward ceremony.
  • 1867, The Esquimaux, Vol. 1 No. 4
    If it is not imagining too much, may not some of our Monroe doctrine upholders, have made him skedaddle before this time, and who knows, but the American flag now waves on the halls of Montezuma!
  • 1902, Charles Fletcher Lummis, The Awakening of a Nation: Mexico of Today
    ... summer home of Motecuzoma, a palace of the Viceroys from Galvez* down, and the chosen spot of Maximilian and Carlota.
  • 1985, Archibald MacLeish, Collected Poems, 1917-1982
    Dawn on the wall-head there: and Montezúma
    Clad in the gold cloth: gilded: and he smiled:
  • 1995, Tony D. Triggs, Aztecs
    With the water birds Montezuma kept people whose eyebrows, hair and bodies were completely white.
  • 1995, Inga Clendinnen, Aztecs: An Interpretation
    It has sometimes been claimed that the last days of empire say the beginning of a cult of the ruler, initiated and encouraged by Moctezoma the Younger.
  • 2003, Francis Brooks, The Impact of Disease, in Technology, Disease, and Colonial Conquests, Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries
    The antithesis is embodied in the personalities of Cortés and Motecuzoma: Cortés machiavellian, resourceful, manipulative and intrepid; Motecuzoma fearful of his gods, crippled by superstition and unable to make up his mind whether to welcome the strangers or push them back into the sea.
  • 2003, J. Richard Andrews, Introduction to Classical Nahuatl (revised edition)
    They said to him, “Are you Moteuczoma?” He said, “Indeed I am the one who is your governor, Moteuczoma.”
  • 2004, Joanie Sanchez, Adventure Guides Mexico's Gulf Coast
    When Cortés reached the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, Moctezuma, left, welcomed him, and housed and fed his troops.
  • 2005, John Pohl, Charles M. Robinson, Aztecs and Conquistadores
    Motecuhzoma agreed, but replied that he would have to stay, and pray and make sacrifices to ask pardon of the gods for bringing the Spaniards.

Usage notes[edit]

The second Moctezuma is the one most commonly referred to. The two may be distinguished as M— I and M— II, as M— the Elder and M— the Younger, or as M— Ilhuicamina and M— Xocoyotzin, respectively.

Alternative forms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ J. Richard Andrews (2003) Introduction to Classical Nahuatl, rev. edition, Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, page 599.

Further reading[edit]