The meaning of the name Titicaca

The name Titicaca: Rock of the Puma

There are several theories on the meaning of “titicaca”. The most common theory is that it orginates from “titi” which means Puma and “caca” which means Rock in quechua. Looking at the shores of Lake Titicaca, it’s easy to understand where the rock comes from, but the puma may be a bit harder to accept, unless you know that the puma used to be quite common in the area surrounding Lake Titicaca. In time it pulled back from the more and more populated area, as pumas aren’t very fond of the presence of people – smart animal if you ask me.

Another  cool explanation lies in the shape of the lake. When you put the map of Lake Titicaca “upside down” you can imagine the shape of a puma that is about to devour a rabbit. Looking at the map, it doesn’t sound that bad, but I’d love to know how you one come to this conclusion without a decent map or satellite images, none of which the Incas had at their disposal as far as we know.

Take a look at the picture below and draw your own conclusion. Puno is on the upper right side of the picture, La Paz is more to the left (but not on the photo). The “tail” of the puma on the bottom left is Lake Arapa.

The blue part (The Greater Lake and the Puno Bay) is the puma, the red part (The Minor Lake)  is the rabbit, chasing it from right to left.

lake titicaca puma rabbit 300x165 The meaning of the name Titicaca

Lake Titicaca – a puma chasing a rabbit.








Have you heard any other theories ? Let me know.



2 thoughts on “The meaning of the name Titicaca

  1. The name Titti in the Aymara language was the name of a metal- either lead or tin, according to linguists. Titicaca, it is suggested, meant “Stone of Tin” and Lake Titicaca was the lake that was the source of the tin.
    Source for reference: Zecharia Sitchin, The Lost Realms

  2. According to a Professor from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, specialist in Andean languages,
    Prof Cerron, says that Titicaca have an origin from a extinct language called Puquina
    “Titi” in Puquina means “Sun”, I could not see what “caca” means in Puquina because did not explain the part. However, it did affirm that was in Puquina.
    Here is a Video of the class named “the secret language of the Incas”
    The video is in Spanish. And the (PUCP) Pontifia Universidad Catolica del Peru, is a very well recognized university.

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