This glossary is not intended to be comprehensive or to serve in place of a dictionary but rather as a list of keywords, key terms, and lesser-known words and phrases, some of which are specific to the Borderlands, that will aid readers of the plays in this anthology.

agüitado sad, depressed, bummed out
alférez ensign; military officer rank below lieutenant
altar table used for religious rituals. During Día de los Muertos, homemade altars are decorated with pictures, mementos, and offerings to ancestors and loved ones who have passed.
asina like this, like that
ay te watcho I’ll see you; see you around
baboso idiot, fool
barrio often used in the U.S. to refer to a predominantly Spanish-speaking, working-class neighborhood
El Borracho an inebriated man, a figure pictured on traditional Loteria cards
botica store, pharmacy, sometimes where natural medicines are dispensed.
cabezón stubborn
cabrón bastard, asshole
calavera Día de los Muertos skull; sometimes refers to a skeleton, also called a calaca
carnal friend, brother
cempasúchitl marigolds, traditionally placed on Día de los Muertos altars to attract the spirits of the dead.
charro Mexican cowboy
chale used to show disagreement, hell no
chamaco kid
chingado fuck, fucker, fucking, fucked, depending on context
chisme(s) gossip
chorro de luces beam of lights, a lot of lights
cholo/a originally a derogatory term referring to someone of mixed-race or low-class background, the term was reclaimed by Chicano youth in the 1960s. The cholo/a style is derived from pachuco subculture of the 1930s and 40s.
chulo/a cute, pretty
Citlali a Nahua creator goddess, often depicted with a skirt of stars
Coatlicue the Nahua mother goddess of creation and destruction, often depicted with a skirt of serpents
Chief Popay Tewa Pueblo leader who led the Pueblo Revolt of 1680; also spelled Po’Pay
coconut derogatory word for someone considered “Brown on the outside and white on the inside”
colibrí hummingbird; see huitzilin
consejo advice, guidance
corrido Mexican ballad
coyote trafficker who brings people across the border
Cualli Tlanecic “Good morning” in Nahuatl
Cuauhtemoc the last Mexica ruler of Tenochtitlan, who ruled from 1520–1521
curandera/o traditional Indigenous healer in the Americas
Día de los Chicos In Día de los Muertos celebrations, the first day (November 1st) is reserved specifically for remembering children who have passed.
Día de los Difuntos In Día de los Muertos celebrations, the second day (November 2nd) is dedicated to honoring those who have passed and praying for their souls.
Día de Todos los Santos Catholic celebration known in English as All Saints’ Day that coincides with annual Día de los Muertos rituals
dreamers undocumented Americans brought to the U.S. as children, named for the DREAM Act which provides access to in-state college tuition and a pathway to citizenship. Several versions of the bill have been proposed since 2001 but none has become law.
favela slum or shantytown in or around Brazilian cities
gente people, sometimes used to refer to Mexicans, Mexican Americans, or Latinxs
gringo usually refers to a white, Anglo person
hacienda landed estate or plantation in the colonies or former colonies of the Spanish Empire
huitzilin Nahuatl for hummingbird; sacred in Nahua mythology and associated with warriors, particularly Huitzilopochtli, the god of sun and war
Indio Spanish for Indian
Iztaccíhuatl one of a pair of volcanos in Mexico whose formation is explained by a legend about a Tlaxcala princess, Iztaccíhuatl, who was betrothed to a Chichimeca warrior named Popocatépetl. They are often referred to as the Mexican Romeo and Juliet because their love story has a similarly tragic ending brought about by rivalry, miscommunication, and grief.
kivas rooms used in Pueblo culture for ceremonial rites, practices, and gatherings
La Llorona in Mexican mythology, a ghostly woman who wails as she mourns the children she drowned
Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling
Maestre de Campo high-ranking officer in the Spanish army
malcriado bad-mannered, rude, spoiled
mancha stain, blemish, spot
medicine man traditional healer in some Indigenous communities in North America
Mictlán the Nahua underworld
mano shortened version of hermano (brother)
mija/o contraction of mi + hija/o, used as a term of endearment or address
El Movimiento used to refer to the Chicano Movement for civil and labor rights, beginning in the 1960s.
ofrenda offering placed on the altar to the dead during Día de los Muertos
órale an affirmation in Mexican Spanish slang
pan de muerto pastry served as part of Día de los Muertos ceremonies
papeles papers, often used to refer to immigration documentation
pelado person of low social class; literally meaning “bald,” the term is derived from the practices of shaving the heads of incarcerated people
pelón bald, poor, and/or stupid; similar to “pelado”
peleonero someone who is aggressive or hotheaded
pendejo idiot, stupid
peregrino pilgrim
pietà a work of art that depicts the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Christ
pinche fucking
pingo rascal
plaza an open public space in a city or town, often a square with a cathedral and administrative buildings
pocho/a derogatory term used to describe someone of Mexican heritage who has assimilated or become Americanized; sometimes reclaimed as a term of pride
PrEP HIV prevention medication
primo/a cousin, often used colloquially to refer to family members or close friends
que chivo how cool
que espanto how scary
querida dear, beloved
rebozo shawl
repartimiento Spanish colonial labor system imposed on Indigenous Peoples
ruca girl or hot girl
sangrón disagreeable, annoying
simón yes, hell yeah; used to respond affirmatively
sinvergüenza shameless; someone without shame
sugar skulls decorative skulls made out of sugar to represent a departed soul and placed on altars during Día de los Muertos
Tejano a Mexican American inhabitant of Texas
teniente a rank in the Kingdom of Spain’s military equivalent to a lieutenant
Tenochtitlán the center of the Mexica, or Aztec, Empire; now the center of Mexico City
Tezcatlipoca a central deity for the Nahua whose name means Smoking Mirror and whose animal disguise was a jaguar
thirteen heavens the afterlife, believed by many Mesoamerican peoples to be divided into thirteen levels
TJ nickname for Tijuana
Tonatiuh Nahua sun deity who was responsible for fertility but also demanded sacrifice
travieso mischievous, naughty
vato Mexican/Chicano slang for “dude” or “man,” sometimes used to mean “cholo”
vendido sellout
veneno poison
La Virgen de Guadalupe the patron saint of Mexico who represents the nation’s hybrid Catholic and Indigenous spiritual heritage
wetback derogatory term for an undocumented person, reflecting the fact that many cross the Rio Grande in the process of migrating
xiuhuitzolli a turquoise diadem or crown that was worn by several Nahua deities as a symbol of power
Xochiquetzal a Nahua goddess of beauty, love, and household arts; often associated with flowers
yoloxochitl magnolia (Nahuatl)