1570s, originally "one of the aboriginal peoples discovered in the Western Hemisphere by Europeans," from Modern Latin Americanus, from America (q.v.). The original sense is now Native Americans; the sense of "resident of North America of European (originally British) descent" is from 1765.
"lame," 1787, from north Midlands dialect, of unknown origin, perhaps a variant of gammy (tramps' slang) "bad," or from Old North French gambe "leg" (see gambol (n.)).
open-air game involving kicking a ball, c. 1400; in reference to the inflated ball used in the game, mid-14c. ("Þe heued fro þe body went, Als it were a foteballe," Octavian I manuscript, c. 1350), from foot (n.) + ball (n.1). Forbidden in a Scottish statute of 1424. One of Shakespeare's insults is "you base foot-ball player" [Lear I.iv]. Ball-kicking games date back to the Roman legions, at least, but the sport seems first to have risen to a national obsession in England, c. 1630. Figurative sense of "something idly kicked around, something subject to hard use and many vicissitudes" is by 1530s.
Rules of the game first regularized at Cambridge, 1848; soccer (q.v.) split off in 1863. The U.S. style (known to some in England as "stop-start rugby with padding") evolved gradually 19c.; the first true collegiate game is considered to have been played Nov. 6, 1869, between Princeton and Rutgers, at Rutgers, but the rules there were more like soccer. A rematch at Princeton Nov. 13, with the home team's rules, was true U.S. football. Both were described as foot-ball at Princeton.
Then twenty-five of the best players in college were sent up to Brunswick to combat with the Rutgers boys. Their peculiar way of playing this game proved to Princeton an insurmountable difficulty; .... Two weeks later Rutgers sent down the same twenty-five, and on the Princeton grounds, November 13th, Nassau played her game; the result was joyous, and entirely obliterated the stigma of the previous defeat. ["Typical Forms of '71" by the Princeton University Class of '72, 1869]
Middle English gamen "to sport, joke, jest," from Old English gamenian "to play, jest, joke;" see game (n.). The Middle English word is little recorded from c. 1400 and modern use for "to play at games" (1520s) probably is a new formation from the noun; and it might have been re-re-coined late 20c. in reference to computer games. Related: Gamed; gaming.
1590s, "pertaining to the Western Hemisphere and its aboriginal inhabitants," from Modern Latin Americanus, from America (q.v.); the sense of "pertaining to the residents of North America of European (originally British) descent" is recorded by 1640s; later "pertaining to the United States." French Américain, Spanish and Italian Americano, German Amerikanisch. Fem. form Americaness attested from 1838. The American beauty rose so called from 1886. American English as a sub-language attested from 1806; Amerenglish is from 1974.
c. 1200, from Old English gamen "joy, fun; game, amusement," common Germanic (cognates: Old Frisian game "joy, glee," Old Norse gaman "game, sport; pleasure, amusement," Old Saxon gaman, Old High German gaman "sport, merriment," Danish gamen, Swedish gamman "merriment"), said to be identical with Gothic gaman "participation, communion," from Proto-Germanic *ga- collective prefix + *mann "person," giving a sense of "people together."
The -en was lost perhaps through being mistaken for a suffix. Meaning "contest for success or superiority played according to rules" is first attested c. 1200 (of athletic contests, chess, backgammon). Especially "the sport of hunting, fishing, hawking, or fowling" (c. 1300), thus "wild animals caught for sport" (c. 1300), which is the game in fair game (see under fair (adj.)), also gamey. Meaning "number of points required to win a game" is from 1830. Game plan is 1941, from U.S. football; game show first attested 1961.
"ready for action, unafraid, and up to the task;" probably literally "spirited as a game-cock," 1725, from game-cock "bird bred for fighting" (1670s), from game (n.) in the "sport, amusement" sense. Middle English adjectives gamesome, gamelich meant "joyful, playful, sportive."
"English person who has settled in North America," 1738, from Anglo- + American. Originally often in contrast to German immigrants; later (1830s) in contrast to French-Canadians, Louisiana French, Spanish Mexicans. As an adjective from 1797, "pertaining to the English who have settled in America;" the meaning "pertaining to both England and the United States" is from 1812.
coined 1931 by James Truslow Adams (1878-1949), U.S. writer and popular historian (unrelated to the Massachusetts Adamses), in "Epic of America."
[The American Dream is] that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position. [Adams]
Others have used the term as they will.