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n. pl. zo·ca·los
A town square or plaza, especially in Mexico.

[Mexican Spanish zócalo, from Spanish, socle, from Italian zoccolo; see socle.]
Word History: The grand zocalo of Mexico's capital, La Plaza de la Constitución, has been the heart of the city since Aztec times. In fact, this plaza was the first zocalo actually to be called a zócalo. The original meaning in Spanish of zócalo is "socle," a plain square block that serves as a pedestal for a sculpture or column. At the beginning of the 1800s, the Plaza de la Constitución was occupied by a statue depicting Charles IV, king of Spain from 1788 to 1819, seated on horseback. In 1843, General Antonio López de Santa Anna, then president of Mexico, ordered that the old statue be removed and replaced with a grandiose monument commemorating the independence of Mexico. A huge block of marble for the socle of the statue was placed in the square. Soon after, funds for the monument's construction ran short, and the project was indefinitely postponed. The block of marble, however, stayed put and became a local landmark, so that people began to refer to the whole plaza as el Zócalo, "the Socle." The socle was eventually removed, but the name for the plaza stuck. This use of zócalo spread from the capital to other parts of Mexico, and now the plazas of many Mexican cities are called zócalos.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


n, pl -los
the main square or plaza in a Mexican town
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in periodicals archive ?
Just hours after winning the presidency on July 1, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador repeated his campaign promise to tens of thousands of jubilant supporters packing Mexico City's Zocalo square: "Eradicating corruption and impunity will be the principal mission of the new government."
'The revolution of consciences has triumphed,' the winner told tens of thousands of jubilant supporters who had gathered on Mexico City's central Zocalo Square.
In 2007 in Mexico City, 18,000 people stripped off in the heart of the city's Zocalo Square for Tunick, an internationally renowned photographer from New York.
The protests closed more than 100 schools in Mexico City, and as many as 4,000 police officers took to the streets to keep demonstrators from flooding the city's central Zocalo square. The reforms enacted in 2013 require teacher evaluations and take away unions' power to award vacant teaching posts.
"Spectre" kicks off with a pre-credit chase through a Day of the Dead celebration on Mexico City's Zocalo Square. Shot over 10 days in November 2014, the sequence required 1,500 extras each day outfitted in elaborate costumes and makeup, along with 50 to 100 police and catering for approximately 3,000 people.
LOS ANGELES -- From a grand old hotels rooftop restaurant overlooking Mexico Citys Zocalo square and the National Palace, we recently had the best view of director Sam Mendes filming of the opening sequence of the latest James Bond movie, "Spectre."
Parents of the 43 male college students, who reject claims their sons are dead, led the march to the historic Zocalo square, in front of the National Palace.
Hundreds of participants in the demonstration in the Mexican capital marched from the Angel de la Independencia monument to the huge Zocalo Square. Demonstrators shouted, "They took them alive, we want them alive."
Hundreds of officers flooded the Zocalo square after some 200 demonstrators disobeyed a deadline to vacate the area to make room for the nation's independence day celebrations this weekend after weeks of protests against education reform, AFP correspondents said.
Violent clashes took place to end the occupation of Mexico City's Zocalo Square, where furious teachers had set up a large protest camp for many weeks.
The rally ended in Zocalo Square. Although the city has introduced a series of bikeA[degrees]friendly policies, milA[degrees] lions of vehicles clogging the streets every day make cycling a serious challenge.
We stood side by side in Mexico City's Zocalo square, two journalists fidgeting uncomfortably, trying hard to maintain objectivity amid the agony around us.