9 Quechua Words You Didn't Know You Were Saying

05/17/2014 11:02 am ET | Updated Jun 09, 2014

With more than 8 million speakers, Quechua is the most widely spoken indigenous language of the Americas. Once the language joining the Inca empire of Western South America, most Quechua speakers live in the three countries of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, with pockets of speakers in other countries of South America and, of course, some speakers in the United States.

Quechua may have had more of an impact on English than you thought. Check out these 9 English words derived from Quechua below.

  • 1 Condor
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  • The name for these large vultures native to the Americas comes from the Quechua "kuntur."
  • 2 Guano
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  • This term for bird excrement entered the English lexicon via Spanish, which had corrupted the Quechua term "wanu," meaning "dung" or "fertilizer," according to Merriam-Webster.
  • 3 Jerky
  • The Quechua term "ch'arki" means "dried flesh."
  • 4 Puma
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  • Quechua speakers gave this mountain lion indigenous to the Americas its name.
  • 5 Quinoa
    Aymara indigenous women taste food made with quinoa, in Challapata, southern Bolivia. Getty Images
  • Newly trendy in the United States, this food is indigenous to the Andes, where Quechua speakers call is "kinua."
  • 6 Cocaine
    View of the inside of a semi-submersible -seized with seven and a half tons of cocaine- exhibited at a military unit in Tegucigalpa on February 24, 2014. (Getty Images)
  • In the Andes, the coca plant is chewed and steeped in tea, which gives a mild, coffee-like stimulant effect and helps relieve altitude sickness. The plant is also unfortunately the base for the hard drug cocaine, whose name is derived from the Quechua "cuca," the name for coca leaf.
  • Increasingly popular in the United States, the name for Peruvian brandy is a Quechua word meaning "bird." (It's perhaps most commonly drunk as the base of a pisco sour -- Peru's national cocktail, mixing pisco, lime, sugar, and egg white.)
  • The bittering agent in tonic water takes its name from the Quechua "kina."
  • 9 PERU-OFFBEAT-LLAMAS-ALPACAS
    A llama walks next to cars as a small group of Andean people parade with their llamas and alpacas to promote a local fair in Lima on August 24, 2012. Getty Images
  • English speakers know this Andean pack animal by its Quechua name.

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