Montezuma's revenge

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

A 19th-century steel engraving of Montezuma or Moctezuma II, from the collection of the Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Named for Montezuma or Moctezuma II (c. 1466 – 1520), the last Aztec ruler before the empire was conquered by the Spanish. The condition is seen as “retribution” for the slaughter and enslavement of the Aztec people by Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés on 13 August 1521.

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Noun[edit]

Montezuma's revenge (uncountable)

  1. (humorous) Diarrhea experienced by tourists after drinking water or eating food in Mexico as a result of a bacteria strain to which native Mexicans are immune.
    • 1994, John-Claude Guillebaud; John Simmons, transl., “Montezuma’s Revenge”, in Return to Vietnam, London; New York, N.Y.: Verso Books, →ISBN, page 112:
      Montezuma's Revenge, everybody knows, is the persistent intestinal illness that spoils the good humour of tourists in the tropics. Could there be a Montezuma's Revenge of the soul? There could. We caught it.
    • 1999, Jim Foster, “Picking on Senator Going Too Far”, in I Hate to Complain, but …: A Collection of Humorous Something-or-others, Toronto, Ont.; Headington, Oxford; Tonawanda, N.Y.: Hounslow Press, Dundurn Press, →ISBN, page 19:
      There's a lot of flu bugs floating around. I think it is commendable that he thought enough of his fellow senators to keep his diseases to himself. I don't know what he had, but I suspect it was Montezuma's Revenge. (Mexico is the only country in th world where the expression "Royal Flush" has nothing to do with playing cards.)
    • 2004, Jeffrey M. Pilcher, “From “Montezuma’s Revenge” to “Mexican Truffles”: Culinary Tourism across the Rio Grande”, in Lucy M. Long, editor, Culinary Tourism (Material Worlds), Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, →ISBN, page 76:
      President Jimmy Carter arrived in Mexico City for a state visit on February 14, 1979, and proceeded to recall for his hosts a previous encounter with Mexican culture, decades earlier as a naval officer, in which he had contracted what he described as "Montezuma's revenge." This indelicate reference to tourist's diarrhea became something of an international incident; Mexican Preident José López Portillo insisted that his country be treated with respect, while the local press denounced the remark as a "typical Yankee slur."
    • 2010, George Ann Huck; Jann E. Freed, Women of Yucatán: Thirty Who Dare to Change Their World, Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, →ISBN, page 18:
      We warily sipped the lemonade, knowingly flirting with the tourist stomach disorder known here as Moctezuma's revenge.
    • 2014, M. I. Lastman, “Answers”, in Rocky Mountain Locust: Opus I, Trio: A Novel, Victoria, B.C.: FriesenPress, →ISBN, part 1 (Jim), page 32:
      When we were together in Mexico in the early seventies, she came down with a bad case of Moctezuma's revenge, complaining that she'd never been sick to her stomach before.

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