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1. Any of several bulrushes that grow in marshy lowlands of the southwest United States.
2. tu·les (to͞o′lēz) Northern California Marshy or swampy land. Also called regionally tule land.
[American Spanish, from Nahuatl tōlin, reed, sedge.]
Word History: Low, swampy land is called tules or tule land in the parlance of northern California. When the Spanish colonized Mexico and Central America in the 1500s, they borrowed many words from Nahuatl, the language spoken by many of the peoples of central Mexico at the time, including the Aztecs, and still spoken by almost a million and a half people in Mexico today. The Nahuatl word tōlin, meaning "reed, sedge," was borrowed into Spanish as tule. Later, when English-speaking settlers began to move into western California in the first part of the 1800s, they borrowed the American Spanish word tule from the speakers of Spanish in the area and used it refer to certain varieties of bulrush native to California. Eventually the meaning of the word was extended to the marshy land where the bulrushes grew.
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.
(Plants) US a type of bulrush (Scirpus acutus) found in Western America, esp California, in marshes and beside lakes and ponds
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
tu•le(ˈtu li, -leɪ)
n., pl. -les.
either of two large bulrushes, Scirpus lacustris or S. acutus.
[1830–40, Amer.; < Mexican Spanish < Nahuatl tōlin]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.