Q. What is the origin and definition of Cohiba?
We know that the “cohiba” plant is native to Cuba and that Columbus spread the news upon his return to Europe from the Americas in 1492. Since the word cohiba is not a Spanish word, it must be a Taino dialect. But what is the literal translation?
– Ron Nishimoto
A. According to my research, your guess is essentially correct. The Taino Indians lived in both Cuba and Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic) and referred to tobacco by two pronunciations: Cohiba and Cojoba. Other sources refer to the word Cohiba more specifically as “cured tobacco,” or the word for “cigar” which could be considered one in the same. Suffice it to say – for all intents and purposes – the word Cohiba literally means “tobacco.”
FYI – the word Cuaba, which sounds a lot like Cohiba, is another old Taino Indian word for a highly flammable bush they used to make torches.
Finally, I believe the “cohiba” plant you refer to in your question is actually the Corojo plant, which is the tobacco used exclusively in Cuban cigars.