The meaning of the word AMERICAN in the English language varies according to the historical, geographical, and political context in which it is used. _American_ is derived from _America_, a term originally denoting all of the New World (also called _the Americas _). In some expressions, it retains this Pan-American sense, but its usage has evolved over time and, for various historical reasons, the word came to denote people or things specifically from the United States of America .
In modern English, _
The word can be used as either an adjective or a noun (viz. a demonym
). In adjectival use, it means "of or relating to the United States";
for example, "
Compound constructions such as "African
* 1 Other languages
* 2 History
* 3 Usage at the
* 4 Cultural views
* 5 In other contexts
* 5.1 International law * 5.2 U.S. commercial regulation
* 6 Alternatives * 7 See also * 8 Notes * 9 References * 10 Works cited * 11 External links
French , German , Italian , Japanese , Hebrew , Arabic , and Russian
speakers may use cognates of _American_ to refer to inhabitants of
In French, _états-unien_, _étas-unien_ or _étasunien_, from
_États-Unis d'Amérique_ ("
Likewise, German's use of _U.S.-amerikanisch_ and _U.S.-Amerikaner_ observe said cultural distinction, solely denoting U.S. things and people. Note that these are "politically correct" terms and that in normal parlance, the adjective "American" and its direct cognates are usually used if the context renders the nationality of the person clear.
This differentiation is prevalent in German-speaking countries, as
indicated by the style manual of the _
Neue Zürcher Zeitung _ (one of
the leading German-language newspapers in Switzerland) which dismisses
the term _U.S.-amerikanisch_ as both ′unnecessary′ and
′artificial′ and recommends replacing it with _amerikanisch_. The
respective guidelines of the foreign ministries of Austria, Germany
and Switzerland all prescribe _Amerikaner_ and _amerikanisch_ in
reference to the
Portuguese has _americano_, denoting both a person or thing from the
In Spanish, _americano_ denotes geographic and cultural origin in the
New World, as well as (infrequently) a U.S. citizen; the more
common term is _estadounidense_ ("
In other languages, however, there is no possibility for confusion. For example, the Chinese word for "U.S. national" is _měiguórén_ (simplified Chinese : 美国人; traditional Chinese : 美國人) is derived from a word for the United States, _měiguó_, where _měi_ is an abbreviation for _Yàměilìjiā_ ("America") and _guó_ is "country". The name for the American continents is _měizhōu_, from _měi_ plus _zhōu_ ("continent"). Thus, a _měiZHōUrén_ is an American in the continent sense, and a _měiGUórén_ is an American in the U.S. sense.
Conversely, in Czech , there is no possibility for disambiguation.
_Američan_ (m.) and _američanka_ (f.) can refer to persons from the
Korean and Vietnamese also use unambiguous terms, with Korean having _Migug_ (미국(인)) for the country versus _Amerika_ (아메리카) for the continents, and Vietnamese having _Hoa Kỳ_ for the country versus _Châu Mỹ_ for the continents. Japanese has such terms as well (_beikoku(jin)_ ), but they are found more in newspaper headlines than in speech, where _amerikajin_ predominates.
In Swahili , _Marekani_ means specifically the United States, and
_Mwamarekani_ is a U.S. national, whereas the international form
_Amerika_ refers to the continents, and _Mwaamerika_ would be an
inhabitants thereof. Likewise, the
Esperanto word _Ameriko_ refers
to the continents. For the country there is the term _Usono_. Thus, a
citizen of the
In Hungarian the term amerikai (American) refers to a person or a
thing from the
British map of the
The name _America_ was coined by
Martin Waldseemüller from _Americus
Vespucius_, the Latinized version of the name of Amerigo Vespucci
(1454–1512), the Italian explorer who mapped South America's east
coast and the
16th-century European usage of _American_ denoted the native inhabitants of the New World. The earliest recorded use of this term in English is in Thomas Hacket 's 1568 translation of André Thévet 's book _ France Antarctique _; Thévet himself had referred to the natives as _Ameriques_. In the following century, the term was extended to European settlers and their descendants in the Americas. The earliest recorded use of "English-American" dates to 1648, in Thomas Gage 's _The English-American his travail by sea and land: or, a new survey of the West India's_.
In English, _American_ was used especially for people in the British
In Witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands in Congress. Done at Philadelphia in the State of Pennsylvania the ninth day of July in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Eight, and in the Third Year of the independence of America.
Sam Haselby, a history professor in Lebanon and Egypt, claims it was
British officials who first called the colonists "Americans". When the
drafters of the _Declaration_ —
In _The Federalist_ Papers (1787–88), Alexander Hamilton and James Madison used the adjective _American_ with two different meanings: one political and one geographic; "the American republic" in Federalist No. 51 and in Federalist No. 70 , and, in Federalist No. 24 , Hamilton used _American_ to denote the lands beyond the U.S.'s political borders.
Early official U.S. documents show inconsistent usage; the 1778
Treaty of Alliance with
"...Washington invites his fellow citizens to view themselves now as
As the historian Garry Wills has noted: "This was a theme dear to Washington. He wrote to Timothy Pickering that the nation 'must never forget that we are Americans; the remembrance of which will convince us we ought not to be French or English'." Washington's countrymen subsequently embraced his exhortation with notable enthusiasm.
This semantic divergence among North American anglophones , however,
remained largely unknown in the Spanish-American colonies. In 1801,
the document titled _Letter to American Spaniards_—published in
French (1799), in Spanish (1801), and in English (1808)—might have
The Latter-day Saints ' Articles of Faith refer to the American continents as where they are to build Zion.
Common short forms and abbreviations are the _United States_, the _U.S._, the _U.S.A._, and _America_; colloquial versions include the _U.S. of A._ and _the States_. The term _Columbia _ (from the Columbus surname) was a popular name for the U.S. and for the entire geographic Americas; its usage is present today in the District of Columbia 's name. Moreover, the womanly personification of Columbia appears in some official documents, including editions of the U.S. dollar.
USAGE AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Use of the term _American_ for U.S. nationals is common at the United
Nations , and financial markets in the
SPAIN AND HISPANIC AMERICA
The use of _American_ as a national demonym for U.S. nationals is
challenged, primarily by Hispanic Americans. Spanish speakers in
It is common, and thus acceptable, to use _norteamericano_ as a synonym of _estadounidense_, even though strictly speaking, the term _norteamericano_ can equally be used to refer to the inhabitants of any country in North America, it normally applies to the inhabitants of the United States. But _americano_ should not be used to refer exclusively to the inhabitants of the United States, an abusive usage which can be explained by the fact that in the United States, they frequently abbreviate the name of the country to "America" (in English, with no accent).
Modern Canadians typically refer to people from the
PORTUGAL AND BRAZIL
Generally, _americano_ denotes "U.S. citizen" in
The Getting Through Customs website advises business travelers not to use "in America" as a U.S. reference when conducting business in Brazil.
IN OTHER CONTEXTS
"American" in the 1994 _Associated Press Stylebook _ was defined as, "An acceptable description for a resident of the United States. It also may be applied to any resident or citizen of nations in North or South America." Elsewhere, the _AP Stylebook_ indicates that "United States" must "be spelled out when used as a noun. Use U.S. (no space) only as an adjective."
The entry for "America" in _The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage _ from 1999 reads:
terms "America", "American(s)" and "Americas" refer not only to the United States, but to all of North America and South America. They may be used in any of their senses, including references to just the United States, if the context is clear. The countries of the Western Hemisphere are collectively 'the Americas'.
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At least one international law uses _U.S. citizen_ in defining a
citizen of the
Only air carriers that are "citizens of the United States" may operate aircraft in domestic air service (cabotage) and may provide international scheduled and non-scheduled air service as U.S. air carriers...
Under the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, a "citizen of the United States" means: (a) an individual who is a U.S. citizen; (b) a partnership in which each member is a U.S. citizen; or (c) a U.S. corporation of which the president and at least two-thirds of the board of directors and other managing officers are U.S. citizens, and at least 75 percent of the voting interest in the corporation is owned or controlled by U.S. citizens.
Many international treaties use the terms _American_ and _American citizen_:
* 1796 – The treaty between the
U.S. COMMERCIAL REGULATION
Products that are labeled, advertised, and marketed in the U.S. as "Made in the USA " must be, as set by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), "all or virtually all made in the U.S." The FTC, to prevent deception of customers and unfair competition, considers an unqualified claim of "American Made" to expressly claim exclusive manufacture in the U.S: "The FTC Act gives the Commission the power to bring law enforcement actions against false or misleading claims that a product is of U.S. origin."
Main article: Names for
There are a number of alternatives to the demonym _American_ as a
citizen of the
The list contains (in approximate historical order from 1789 to 1939) such terms as Columbian, Columbard, Fredonian, Frede, Unisian, United Statesian, Colonican, Appalacian, Usian, Washingtonian, Usonian, Uessian, U-S-ian, Uesican, United Stater.
Nevertheless, no alternative to _American_ is common.
* North America portal
* South America portal
* Language portal
* ^ _A_ _B_ Japanese: "U.S. citizen" is _amerika-jin_
* ^ Russian: "U.S. citizen" is _amerikanec_ (американец)
for males and _amerikanka_ (американка) for females
* ^ The first two definitions in _Diccionario de la lengua
española _ (the official dictionary in Spanish) define _americano_ as
"Native of America" and "Pertaining or relating to this part of the
world" , where _América_ refers to the continent. The fourth
definition of _americano_ is defined as "
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Wilson, Kenneth G. (1993). _The Columbia Guide to Standard American English_. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 27–28. ISBN 0-231-06989-8 . View at Bartleby * ^ _A_ _B_ Mencken, H. L. (December 1947). "Names for Americans". _American Speech_. 22 (4): 241–256. JSTOR 486658 . doi :10.2307/486658 . * ^ Avis, Walter S.; Drysdale, Patrick D.; Gregg, Robert J.; Eeufeldt, Victoria E.; Scargill, Matthew H. (1983). "American". _Gage Canadian Dictionary_ (pbk ed.). Toronto: Gage Publishing Limited. p. 37. ISBN 0-7715-9122-5 . * ^ "American". _WordReference English-Japanese Dictionary_. 2013. * ^ "American". _WordReference English-Russian Dictionary_. 2013. * ^ _A_ _B_ "US-Amerikaner". _Wortschatz_ (in German). * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ "Etats-Uniens ou Américains, that is the question". _ Le Monde _ (in French). July 6, 2007. * ^ "American". _Online English-Japanese Pictorial Dictionary_. Free Light Software. * ^ "Arabic-English translation for "أَمْريكيّ"". _Bab.la Dictionary_. Retrieved 28 November 2016. * ^ "statunitense". _WordReference English-Italiano Dictionary_. 2013. * ^ _Vademecum. Der sprachlich-technische Leitfaden der «Neuen Zürcher Zeitung»_, 13th edition. Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zürich 2013, p. 102, s. v. _US-amerikanisch_. * ^ Eidgenössisches Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten: „Liste der Staatenbezeichnungen“; Bundesministerium für europäische und internationale Angelegenheiten: „Liste der Staatennamen und deren Ableitungen in den vom Bundesministerium für europäische und internationale Angelegenheiten verwendeten Formen“; Auswärtiges Amt: „Verzeichnis der Staatennamen für den amtlichen Gebrauch in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland“ * ^ _A_ _B_ "americano". _Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa_ (in Portuguese). * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ "americano". _ Diccionario de la lengua española _ (in Spanish). Real Academia Española. * ^ _Pequeño Larousse Ilustrado 1992 edition, look up word Americano: Contains the Observation: Debe evitarse el empleo de americano con el sentido de norteamericano o de los Estados Unidos_ (in Spanish). * ^ "América". _WordReference English-Spanish Dictionary_. * ^ _A_ _B_ "norteamericano". _Diccionario panhispánico de dudas_ (in Spanish). * ^ "美国人". _WordReference English-Chinese Dictionary_. 2013. * ^ _A_ _B_ "United States". _WordReference English-Chinese Dictionary_. 2013. * ^ _A_ _B_ "America". _WordReference English-Chinese Dictionary_. 2013. * ^ _A_ _B_ "country". _WordReference English-Chinese Dictionary_. 2013. * ^ _A_ _B_ "continent". _WordReference English-Chinese Dictionary_. 2013. * ^ "america". _WordReference English-Korean Dictionary_. 2013. * ^ "United States". _bab.la_. Wasilana & Amana. * ^ "amerika". _bab.la_. Wasilana & Amana. * ^ "American". _bab.la_. Wasilana & Amana. * ^ Youngman, Jeremy. "Introduction to Swahili". _Masai Mara_. * ^ "Ameriko". _Esperanto–English Dictionary_. * ^ "Usono". _Esperanto–English Dictionary_. * ^ "usonano". _Esperanto–English Dictionary_. * ^ (in Esperanto) "Reta Vortaro" . * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ (subscription required) "American". _Oxford English Dictionary _. Retrieved November 27, 2008. * ^ "Declaration of Independence". National Archives. July 4, 1776.
* ^ Wood, Gordon S. (2015), "A Different Story of What Shaped
New York Review of Books _, July 9 issue.
* ^ Letter TJ to Theodore Foster, May 1801, in Paul Leicester Ford
ed., _The Works of Thomas Jefferson_ (1905) 8:50.
* ^ Madison, James. "The Structure of the Government Must Furnish
the Proper Checks and Balances Between the Different Departments".
* ^ Hamilton, Alexander. "The Executive Department Further
Considered". _The Federalist_.
* ^ Hamilton, Alexander. "The Powers Necessary to the Common
Defense Further Considered". The Federalist _Papers_.
* ^ "The Barbary Treaties: Treaty of Peace and Amity".
* ^ wikisource:Washington\'s Farewell Address
* ^ Arbery, Virginia L. (1999), "
Washington's Farewell Address and
the Form of the American Regime"; In: Gary L. Gregg II and Matthew
Spalding, _Patriot Sage:
* Allen, Irving L. (1983). _The Language of Ethnic Conflict: Social Organization and Lexical Culture_. New York: Columbia University Press. * Condon, J.C. (1986). "...So near the United States". In Valdes, J.M. _Culture bound: Bridging the cultural gap in language teaching_. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 85–93. ISBN 978-0-521-31045-1 . * Herbst, Philip H. (1997). _Color of Words: An Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Ethnic Bias in the United States_. ISBN 1-877864-42-0 .
_ Look up AMERICAN _ in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
* Ryle, John (September 7, 1998). "The trouble with Americans". The Guardian .
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