Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A temple of ancient Mexico, usually built on a pyramidal mound.
  • n. The mound on which such a temple was built.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A terraced Mesoamerican pyramid surmounted by a temple.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Literally, God's house; a temple, usually of pyramidal form, such as were built by the aborigines of Mexico, Yucatan, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A structure of earth and stone or brick, used as a temple or place of worship by the Mexicans and other aborigines of America.

Etymologies

Nahuatl : teōtl, god + calli, house.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Nahuatl, literally meaning "God-house". (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • This festival was the most important in Mexico, and took place at the temple or "teocalli," a gigantic, pyramid-like mass of stone, rising in terraces to a height of eighty-six feet above the city, and culminating in a small summit platform upon which the long procession of priests and victims could be seen from all parts of the city.

    Critical and Historical Essays Lectures delivered at Columbia University

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

    Atlantis : the antediluvian world

  • Able, ruthless and bloodthirsty, Ahuitzotl doubled the size of the Aztec empire and is once said to have ritually slaughtered twenty thousand prisoners at a reconstructed teocalli, or sacrificial "god house."

    Aztec Hamlet: the tragedy of Moctezuma 2

  • 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.

    The Moon of Skulls

  • 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.

    The Moon of Skulls

  • Then the black worshipers were on us with a screech and a roar -- leaping on the steps of the teocalli like black leopards in the moonlight, knives flashing, eyes gleaming whitely.

    The Moon of Skulls

  • About the center of the roof rose a sort of teocalli some ten feet high, almost exactly like those found in Mexico and on which the priests of the Aztecs sacrificed human victims.

    The Moon of Skulls

  • 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.

    The Moon of Skulls

  • Speaking of the great teocalli of the city of Mexico, he says, quoting an old description, that the Moon had a little temple in the great courtyard, which was built of shells.

    Anahuac : or, Mexico and the Mexicans, Ancient and Modern

  • He moved slowly towards the great teocalli, his fifty thousand Tlascalan allies following him, throwing down every house, and filling the canals with the ruins.

    Anahuac : or, Mexico and the Mexicans, Ancient and Modern

Comments

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  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    Pronunciation: \ˌtē-ə-ˈka-lē, ˌt�?-ə-ˈkä-\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Nahuatl te�?calli, from te�?tl god + calli house
    Date: circa 1613
    : an ancient temple of Mexico or Central America usually built upon the summit of a truncated pyramidal mound; also : the mound itself

    Also seen as teocallis

    February 24, 2008