Of all the food trends to come and go, the avocado trend seems to be one that perseveres. From green smoothies to avocado museums, people can't get enough of this green superfood. Admittedly, I've also been sucked into the vortex of avocado lovin'.

Little did I know that every time I ordered a side of guacamole or a California roll that I was eating something named after the male genitalia. The shape could have given it away, but then again, who would actually name a fruit after that?

A Brief History

guacamole, salsa, vegetable, avocado, jalapeno
Jocelyn Hsu

This day and age, we're able to enjoy avocados on a daily basis. It wasn't always the case, but luckily we're neighbors with the region that started the avocado craze. In fact, Mexico accounts for about 80% of the avocado distribution in the U.S., according to a 2017 USDA report.

Avocados may be a hot commodity now, but their popularity dates back to about 500 BC in Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America). Around this time, Mesoamerica was filled with Nahuatl-speaking Aztecs. Upon discovering the beautiful fruit,  the Aztecs named it āhuacatl, which directly translates to... "testicle."

Call it a lucky guess or just common sense, but the texture, shape, and size likely gave the avocado its iconic name — not to mention the way they hang in pairs from the tree.

Today's Translation

Marie Chantal Marauta

It turns out that the translation is one of the yesteryear, and "avocado" isn't a synonym for the gonads after all. The name evolved shortly after Spanish conquerers arrived and began to adapt Mesoamerican culture. This is when lots of words were simplified or gently revised; for example, mizquitl became mesquite, coyotl became coyote, etc. 

The same happened with āhuacatl, which was revised and ended up losing its reproductive connotation in the process. It became "aguacate," which is the present day Spanish loanword for avocado, so the association with testicle went away with the name change. 

So What Does Guacamole Mean?

vegetable, guacamole, herb, sauce, salad
Jocelyn Hsu

Believe it or not, people have speculated that guacamole translates to "testicle sauce." Although it seems far-fetched, there's an ironic curveball to the avocado-testicle debacle. The Nahuatl word, mōlli, means "sauce." Told you it was ironic!

As much as people would love to think that guacamole has a secret dirty meaning, it's just a mere coincidence. Snopes debunked the myth with the insight from a Mesoamerican language specialist, Dr. Frances Karttunen. 

He says that because the original word was modified into a word that doesn't carry the same meaning, then it is not a word that signifies the male organ. As Snopes put it, comparing "guacamole" to "testicle sauce" is the same as saying baseball means "base-testicle."


avocado seed, avocado pit, avocado
Jocelyn Hsu

We can all rest easy knowing that our avocado toast isn't actually testicle toast, and maybe next time you're getting your weekly produce you'll remember the history behind the word. 

This delicious fruit - yes, it's a fruit - has a strong history of price fluctuations, so before the prices escalate too much, go nuts! (Pun intended).