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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Teocalli \Te`o*cal"li\, n.; pl. Teocallis. [Mexican.] Literally, God's house; a temple, usually of pyramidal form, such as were built by the aborigines of Mexico, Yucatan, etc.

And Aztec priests upon their teocallis Beat the wild war-drums made of serpent's skin.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

place of worship of ancient Mexicans, 1570s, from American Spanish, from Nahuatl (Aztecan) teohcalli "temple, church," literally "god-house," from teotl "god" + calli "house."


n. A terraced Mesoamerican pyramid surmounted by a temple.


A teocalli ( Nahuatl: "God-house") is a Mesoamerican pyramid surmounted by a temple. The pyramid is terraced, and some of the most important religious rituals in Pre-Columbian Mexico took place in the temple at the top of the pyramid.

The famous, although no longer extant, Aztec Huey Teocalli ("Great Temple," Spanish, Templo Mayor) was located next to what is now Mexico City's main square, the Zocalo. A famous 1848 painting by Emanuel Leutze depicts "The Storming of the Teocalli by Cortez and His Troops," which Leutze painted four years before his classic "Washington Crossing the Delaware."

Usage examples of "teocalli".

And when we reach the sea we encounter at Suku, in Java, a teocalli which is absolutely identical with that of Tehuantepec.

Quetzalcoatl was no longer heard from the teocalli of Cholula, that of Montezuma took its place.

When the name of Quetzalcoatl was no longer heard from the teocalli of Cholula, that of Montezuma took its place.

Without making any further attempt to induce him to ascend the teocalli, which was the name they gave to their pyramidal temples, the governor led the way back to the palace.

As the great teocalli had been captured in fair fight, and a large portion of its buildings burnt, Cortez converted a massive stone edifice that had escaped the flames into a church, and erected a gigantic crucifix on the summit of the teocalli, visible from all points of the city.

Cortez ordered his chamberlain, Don Escobar, with a hundred men, to storm the teocalli and set fire to the sanctuaries.

On the teocalli Santiago stood like a statue of black basalt, facing the east, dagger held high--a wild and terrible sight, naked as he was save for a wide silken girdle and that inhuman mask on his face.

To the foot of the teocalli I stalked and up the stair that ran about it, until I stood beside the death altar and marked the dark red stains upon it.

Then Santiago with a shriek leaped upon me--shrieked again and, arms flung high, pitched headlong from the teocalli with his own dagger buried to the hilt in his breast.

When he suggested to Father Olmedo that the teocalli would be the most appropriate place to house the cross, the priest advised against this.

Having descended by way of the long teocalli stairs, the Spaniards, a little later, caught sight of a large framework building on a mound, which they were moved to explore.

When he burned down the great teocalli, the Aztecs stormed his fortifications with redoubled fury.

Cambodia, which lies farther to the east of Burmah, recent research has discovered teocallis like those in Mexico, and the remains of temples of the same type and pattern as those of Yucatan.

Khemi, and he had climbed th Mian earth mounds and the myriad steps between the terraces of the teocallis of Tolteca, but this edifice was unlike them all.

Like a true queen she lay, with her plunder heaped high about her: silks, cloth-of-gold, silver braid, casks of gems and golden coins, silver ingots, jeweled daggers, and teocallis of gold wedges.