Definition of cacao in English:

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Pronunciation: /kəˈkou/

noun (plural cacaos)

1Beanlike seeds from which cocoa, cocoa butter, and chocolate are made.
Example sentences
  • This type of mole gets everyone excited because it's made with chocolate, but cacao is only one ingredient in the mix of four kinds of chillies and musky spices that create its distinct and complex flavour.
  • The mole chicken was pretty authentic, perfectly cooked white meat in a rich brown sauce of cacao mingled with spices.
  • To those fortunate people, the cocoa drink made from cacao was, as reflected in the genus name, indeed the ‘food of the gods.’
2The small tropical American evergreen tree that bears these seeds, which are contained in large, oval pods that grow on the trunk. The tree is now cultivated mainly in West Africa.
  • Theobroma cacao, family Sterculiaceae.
Example sentences
  • The leaves of mangos and cacaos do the reverse, turning scarlet when they first sprout.
  • Wild cacao grew in many parts of tropical America, including the coast of what is now Ecuador.
  • But chocolate is manufactured from the cocoa plant Theobroma cacao, which literally translates as ‘food of the gods’.


Mid 16th century: via Spanish from Nahuatl cacaua.

  • chocolate from early 17th century:

    The first recorded use in English is as a drink made from chocolate; it was a fashionable drink in the 17th and 18th centuries. Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary in 1664: ‘To a Coffee-house, to drink jocolatte, very good.’ The word comes from French chocolat or Spanish chocolate, from Nahuatl (the language spoken by the Aztecs of Mexico) chocolatl ‘food made from cacao seeds’. Cacao (mid 16th century) and cocoa (early 18th century) are basically the same word, also from Nahuatl. Not from Mexico, though, is the expression I should cocoa. It is cockney rhyming slang for ‘I should say so’.

Words that rhyme with cacao

allow, avow, Bilbao, Bissau, bough, bow, bow-wow, brow, chow, ciao, cow, dhow, Dow, endow, Foochow, Frau, Hangzhou, Hough, how, Howe, kowtow, Lao, Liao, Macao, Macau, miaow, Mindanao, mow, now, ow, Palau, plough (US plow), pow, prow, row, scow, Slough, sough, sow, Tao, thou, vow, wow, Yangshao

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ca·ca·o

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