Different languages use different terms for citizens of the United
States , who are known in English as "
Americans ". All forms of
English refer to U.S. citizens as "Americans", a term deriving from
"America "; in the English context, it came to refer to inhabitants of
British North America , and then the United States. However, there is
some linguistic ambiguity over this use due to the other senses of the
word "American ", which can also refer to people from the
general. Other languages, including French , German , Japanese , and
Russian , use cognates of "American" to refer to people from the
United States, while others, particularly Spanish , primarily use
terms derived from "United States". There are various other local and
colloquial names for Americans.
* 1 Development of the term "American"
* 2 International use
* 3 Alternative terms
* 4 Colloquial terms
* 5 See also
* 6 Notes
* 7 References
DEVELOPMENT OF THE TERM "AMERICAN"
Amerigo Vespucci first demonstrated that Brazil and the West Indies
did not represent Asia's eastern outskirts as conjectured by
Christopher Columbus , but instead constituted an entirely separate
landmass hitherto unknown to the peoples of the
Old World . Martin
Waldseemüller coined the term “America” (in honor of Vespucci) in
a 1507 world map .
First uses of the adjective "American" referenced European
settlements in the
New World . "Americans" referred to the indigenous
peoples of the
Americas , and subsequently to European settlers and
their descendants. English use of the term "American" for people of
European descent dates to the 17th century; the earliest recorded
appearance is in Thomas Gage 's _The English-American: A New Survey of
the West Indies_ in 1648. In English, "American" came to be applied
especially to people in
British America , and thus its use as a
demonym for the
United States derives by extension.
United States Declaration of Independence of 1776 refers to "the
thirteen united States of America", making the first formal use of
the country name; the name was officially adopted by the nation's
first governing constitution, the
Articles of Confederation , in 1777.
Federalist Papers of 1787–1788, written by
Alexander Hamilton ,
John Jay , and
James Madison to advocate the ratification of the
United States Constitution , use the word "American" in both its
original, Pan-American sense, but also in its
United States sense:
Federalist Paper 24 refers to the "American possessions" of Britain
and Spain, (i.e., land outside of the United States), while
Federalist Papers 51 and 70 refer to the
United States as "the
American republic". People from the
United States increasingly
referred to themselves as "Americans" through the end of the 18th
century; the 1795 Treaty of Peace and Amity with the Barbary States
refers to "American Citizens", and
George Washington spoke to his
people of "he name of American, which belongs to you in your national
capacity" in his 1796 farewell address . Eventually, this usage
spread through other English-speaking countries; the unqualified noun
"American" in all forms of the
English language now chiefly refers to
natives or citizens of the United States; other senses are generally
specified with a qualifier such as "_Latin_ American" or "_North_
International speakers of English generally refer to people from the
United States as "Americans", while equivalent translations of
_American_ are used in many other languages: French (_un Américain_)
(although the term étatsunien derived from États-Unis, United States
in French, is also accepted), Dutch (_Amerikaan_), Japanese
(_アメリカ人_, rōmaji : _amerika-jin_), Filipino (_Amerikano_),
Hebrew (_אמריקאי_), Arabic (_أمريكي_), and Russian
In German , the designation _US-Amerikaner_ and its adjective form
"US-amerikanisch" are sometimes used, though _Amerikaner_ (adjective:
_amerikanisch_) is more common in scientific, official, journalistic
and colloquial parlance. The style manual of the _Neue Zürcher
Zeitung _ (a leading German-language newspaper) 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 dictate _Amerikaner/amerikanisch_ for official usage.
"Ami" is common in colloquial speech. In Italian , both _americano_
and _statunitense_ are used, although the former is more common.
European Portuguese , _americano_ is mostly used in colloquial
speech, but the term usually used in the press is _norte-americano_.
Brazilian Portuguese , the everyday term is usually _americano_ or
_norte-americano_ and _estadunidense_ is the preferred form in
Chinese has distinct words for American in the continent sense and
American in the U.S. sense. The
United States of America is called
_美国_ (pinyin: "měiguó"), while the continent of America is
called _美洲_ (pinyin : "měizhōu"). There are separate demonyms
derived from each word; a US citizen is referred to as _美国人_
(pinyin: "měiguó rén").
Although some Spanish speakers use the translation of "American"
(_Americano_) as well, the official _Diccionario Panhispánico de
Dudas de la Real
Academia Española _ nonetheless recommends instead
_estadounidense_ because "American" can also refer to all of the
inhabitants of the continents of North and South America. In
Spanish-speaking Latin America and the Caribbean,
_estadounidenses_, and in colloquial uses, _gringos_, but the word
usually has a disparaging meaning depending on the context in which it
The only officially and commonly used alternative for referring to
the people of the
United States in English is to refer to them as
citizens of that country. Another alternative is _US-American_,
also spelled _U.S.-American_, _US American_, and _U.S. American_.
Several single-word English alternatives for "American" have been
suggested over time, including "
Usonian ", popularized by Frank Lloyd
Wright , and the nonce term "United-Statesian". The writer H. L.
Mencken collected a number of proposals from between 1789 and 1939,
finding terms including "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 in English.
Names for broader categories include terms such as _Western
Hemispherian_, _New Worlder_, and _North Atlantican_.
Yankee " (or "Yank") is a colloquial term for
Americans in English;
cognates can be found in other languages. Within the United States,
"Yankee" usually refers to people specifically from
New England or the
United States , though it has been applied to Americans
generally since the 18th century, especially by the British. The
earliest recorded use in this context is in a 1784 letter by Horatio
List of demonyms for U.S. states
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ "American, _n._ and _adj._". _Oxford
English Dictionary _.
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press . 2008.
* ^ _Merriam-Webster\'s Dictionary of English Usage_, p. 87.
Retrieved November 28, 2008.
* ^ Holloway, Thomas H., ed. (2010). _A Companion to Latin American
History_. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 6. ISBN 978-1444338843 .
* ^ "The Charters of Freedom". National Archives. Retrieved
* ^ Articles of Confederation, Article 1. Available at the Library
of Congress' American Memory.
* ^ Alexander Hamilton. "The Federalist no. 24".
* ^ James Madison. "The Federalist no. 51".
* ^ Alexander Hamilton. "The Federalist no. 70".
* ^ "The Barbary Treaties: Treaty of Peace and Amity".
* ^ "Washington\'s Farewell Address 1796". From The Avalon Project.
Retrieved November 10, 2008.
* ^ _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“ (PDF)
* ^ Bundesministerium für europäische und internationale
Angelegenheiten: „Liste der Staatennamen und deren Ableitungen in
den vom Bundesministerium für europäische und internationale
Angelegenheiten verwendeten Formen“ (PDF)
* ^ Auswärtiges Amt: „Verzeichnis der Staatennamen für den
amtlichen Gebrauch in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland“ (PDF)
* ^ (in Spanish) "El gentilicio recomendado, por ser el de uso
mayoritario, es estadounidense" Unidos Estados Unidos (3) RAE.
Retrieved March 31, 2011.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Wilson, Kenneth G. (1993). "American, America". From
_The Columbia Guide to Standard American English_. Retrieved April 27,
2009. Archived June 29, 2008, at the
Wayback Machine .
* ^ "
United States Guide: Introduction, The US-American education
system: The US has the most diversified". _Just Landed_.
University of the Pacific (United States) : _1.5.4 - Sources of
* ^ osb international systemic consulting: _Potentials and pitfalls
of German / U.S.-American cooperation in workgroups._
Cornell University International Students and Scholars Office
(ISSO): _What Is a US American? Part One_
* ^ "Postmodernism - AnthroBase - Dictionary of Anthropology: A
searchable database of anthropological texts". _anthrobase.com_.
University of Kentucky (UK), Education Abroad: U.S. American
* ^ The _Concise Oxford Dictionary_ (1999:1580) gives the first
meaning of the noun "Usonian" as "a native or inhabitant of the United
* ^ "United States". From the _Oxford English Dictionary_.
Retrieved May 4, 2009.
* ^ _Merriam-Webster\'s Dictionary of English Usage _ (1994:88).
First published in the December 1947 issue of _
American Speech _.
* ^ Matthews, Allan (2006). _Sovereigns Peacefully Take Charge_.
* ^ Bartow, Arthur (1988). _The director's voice_. p. 50.
* ^ Carlson, Elwood (2008). _The lucky few_. p. 15.
* ^ _A_ _B_ "Yankee". From the _Oxford English Dictionary_.
Retrieved November 27, 2008.
* _Merriam-Webster\'s Dictionary of