The name Nahua is derived from the
Nahuatl word-root nāhua-
 which generally means "audible, intelligible, clear" with different derivations including "language" (hence nāhuat(i)
[ˈnaːwat(i)] "to speak clearly" and nāhuatl
[ˈnaːwat͡ɬ] both "something that makes an agreeble sound" and "someone who speaks well or speak one's own language").
 It was used in contrast with popoloca
[popoˈloka], "to speak unintelligibly" or "speak a foreign language".
 Another, related term is Nāhuatlācatl
[naːwaˈt͡ɬaːkat͡ɬ] (singular) or Nāhuatlācah
plural) literally "Nahuatl-speaking people".
The Nahuas are also sometimes referred to as
Aztecs. Using this term for the Nahuas has generally fallen out of favor in scholarship, though it is still used for the
Aztec Empire. They have also been called Mēxihcatl
[meːˈʃiʔkat͡ɬ] (singular), Mēxihcah
 or in Spanish Mexicano(s)
Mexicans", after the
Mexica, the Nahua tribe which founded and predominated in the Aztec empire.