Taino - English Glossary

I will use some words from the Taino language for this site. Some of the words are used in Puerto Rican spanish, especially in the Jibaro dialect (from the rural areas). Some words are also variations of Taino dialects from other islands of the caribbean such as Cuba, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic/Haiti. You'll probably be surprised that some of the words from the language is used in the English language today (hurricane and barbeque are one of them). Most of these words are from the sites The Dictionary of the Taino Language, Taino Words , and Indigenous Languages of the Caribbean, and from the book Anacaona: Golden Flower.


Aba - first 

Abuje - type of insect that stings or bites

Ahiyaka - speak 

Ako - eye 

Ana - flower

Anaki - enemy

Aon - dog

Ara - tree, wood

Arcabuco - forest

Areito - a Taino ceremony that includes narrative poems, ballads, music, dances, ball games, and mock battles

Arijuna - foreigner (makuri is another word)

Asu - sunset

Atabey - goddess of freshwater fertility (Yucahu's mother)

Atole - stew

Ayiti - mountainous land, slippery land


Baba - father

Babonuco - cloth coiled on top of head used to balance

Bagua - sea

Barbacoa - a stand for roasting meat; the original source of the current-day "barbecue"

Batey - ceremonial ball court or plaza, also the name used for the Taino ball game similar to today's volleyball

Behuko - vine

Bexuco - a type of vine to create bags

Bibi - Mother; the word toa is also used for "mother"

Bibiti - four

Bibijagua - type of ant

Bohio - a common Taino residence

Boricua - Puerto Rican person (derived from the word Boriquen)

Boriquen - Puerto Rico (Boriken is another word for it)

Bucaro - wading bird

Bujucu - morning light

Busica - to give


Cacica - female supreme chief, or ruler

Cacique - male supreme chief, or ruler

Cacona - glass bead. Bead works

Cajaya - shark

Cana - type of palm tree

Canari - a clay pot

Caney - the house of the chief or ruler; longhouse

Canoa - canoe or boat

Canocum - three

Cao - type of crow bird

Caona - yellow gold. Another word for gold is tuob

Cariaco - corn with red tones

Carib - one of the enemy groups of the Tainos

Casabi - cassava made from the yucca plant, a staple of the Taino diet

Cayo - island

Chicha - fermented drink made out of corn

Chin - small quantities

Chinchilin - a type of black bird

Ciba - a sharpened stone used as a tool or weapon

Cibuca - a strainer used to squeeze yucca roots

Ciguato - silly person

Cimu - beginning

Cinato - to irritate

Coa - a wooden stick used in conuco-style farming and also as a weapon in mock battles (see conuco)

Cob - big conch shell

Coki - frog (coqui is another word for it; literally means "cricket frog")

Colibri - hummingbird

Comexen - termites

Conuco - Taino farming land; also refers to the Taino method of farming (see coa)

Cupey - tree which the Tainos used the resin to make handballs


Daca Guamiquina - I am an important person

Daca - I (am)

Dali - rope made from a fixed grass 

Digo - plant used to wash the body

Dita - cup

Duho - a ceremonial chair or stool used by Taino leaders


Fututo - horn made out of conch shell


Guabina - type of fish

Guaguarey - clay

Guaiba - to go

Guanime - dessert platter made of corn

Guatiao - a vow of sincere friendship between two people, under which they interexchange their names

Guatu - campfire

Guazabara - to fight

Guey - sun

Guibara - shrubby horsetails


Haba - cane basket

Heketi - one

Hico - rope for hammocks

Higuaca - Parrot

Hupia - spirit of the night


Iguana - a large lizard

Inaru - woman

Inkayeke - village

Ipire - crain bird

Iro - man

Ita - don't know anything


Jamaca - hammock (hamaia is another word for it)

Jicara - gourd

Jiriguao - lice

Juaiba - to go

Juey - crab from mangrove swamps

Jujabi - small parrot

Jurakan - storm, hurrican (hurakan is another word for it)


Kabuya - rope 

Kakona - reward 

Kalina - one of the enemy groups of the Tainos

Kanoku - three

Karaya - moon

Kaya - island (ke is another word for it)

Kokuyo - firefly

Konike - belongings

Kotara - sandal

Kowo - snail


Lambi - conch

Leren - type of potato

Licei - brave or daring men


Mabo - prince 

Mabuya - ghost of an evil spirit

Maca - tree

Macana - wooden club

Macao - land of the orient

Machabuca - I don't care

Mahite - teethless

Manaya - ax made out of stones

Mani - peanut

Manicato - "strong," a courageous person (can also mean nobility)

Mao - shield made out of rope, thick grass, and/or cotton

Mapuey - type of tuber

Maraca - a gourd rattle; still used today in Caribbean music

Matum - friendship (can also mean generous)

Matunheri - Your Highness, Most Highest One

Mayani - nothing

Maye - a type of mosquito that lives near high grass

Mayohaboa - a Taino drum that the Tainos referred to as "the voice of the gods"

Moroyo - cemi of the rain


Naboria - Taino servant class

Nacan - in the middle

Naguacoquio - dressed person

Nagua - women's skirt

Naje - paddle

Nasa - net

Neibowa - sticky

Ni - water

Nigua - a flealike insect that penetrates the skin to lay its eggs, causing itching and ulcers

Nitaino - Taino "noble" (it can also mean gentlemen)


Operito - dead 

Opia - spirit of ancestors or the dead


Pernonila - small read and black fruit

Pitirre - type of bird

Pu - a shade of color red


Roco - to get to know


Salina - to leave; refuge 

Sanako - foolish (siwato is another word for it)

Sarobey - cotton

Seboruco - inhospitable terrain

Serra - to exchange; barter

Siani - married woman

siba - stone

Simu - face

Sinato - upset


Tabucu - a type of vine

Taino - name of the Arawak Indian tribes of the Caribbean (it means "kindness" because of their hospitality and harmony with nature)

Tanama - butterfly

Tawawa - earring

Teitoca - to stand still

Teketa - much

Tekina - leader

Tequia - teacher, guide

Tereke - furniture

Tereque - article with no value

Tiao - brother

Toa - mother (see bibi)

Toali - a three points "cemi"

Tobacu - tobacco

Toca - to be

Totumo - a type of tree whose fruits look like a pumpkin

Tuna - something from the water

Ture - heaven

Turey - sky (tureyro is another word for it)


Uicu - a fermented drink made from the juice of the yucca


Waisa - mask

Warikete - wooden bowl 

Wasabara - battle

Wawa - free

Wiho - mountainous


Xara - lake 

Xauxau - casabe reserved for important people

Xoxen - mosquito


Yamoka - two 

Yamokobre - four 

Yaque - river

Yari - jewel

Yaya - spirit of the tree, supreme ancestor

Yayama - pineapple

Yu - a shade of white color

Yuquiyu - God of the rainforest (now as El Yunque today)


Zemi - a sculpture created for religious use; often made out of wood or stone