Tlatoani (Classical Nahuatl: tlàtoāni pronounced [tɬaʔtoˈaːni]; plural tlàtòquê, [tɬaʔ.ˈtoʔ.keʔ]) is the Nahuatl term for the ruler of an altepetl, a pre-Hispanic state. The word literally means “speaker”, but may be translated into English as “king“. A cihuātlàtoāni ([si.waː.tɬaʔ.to.ˈaː.ni]) is a female ruler, or queen regnant.
The term quauhtlatoani refers to “provisional, interim, or at least non-dynastic rulers”. The leaders of the Mexica prior to their settlement are sometimes referred to as quauhtlatoque, as are those colonial rulers who were not descended from the ruling dynasty.