1507, "the western hemisphere, North and South America," in Cartographer Martin Waldseemüller's treatise "Cosmographiae Introductio," from Modern Latin Americanus, traditionally after Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512) who made two trips to the New World as a navigator and claimed to have discovered it. His published works put forward the idea that it was a new continent, and he was first to call it Novus Mundus "New World." Amerigo is more easily Latinized than Vespucci (Latin Vesputius, which might have yielded place-name Vesputia). The sense in English naturally was restricted toward the British colonies, then the United States.
It is a thousand pities that the puny witticisms of a few professional objectors should have the power to prevent, even for a year, the adoption of a name for our country. At present we have, clearly, none. There should be no hesitation about "Appalachia." In the first place, it is distinctive. "America" is not, and can never be made so. We may legislate as much as we please, and assume for our country whatever name we think right — but to use it will be no name, to any purpose for which a name is needed, unless we can take it away from the regions which employ it at present. South America is "America," and will insist upon remaining so. [Edgar Allan Poe, "Marginalia," in Graham's Magazine, Philadelphia, December 1846]
FREDONIA, FREDONIAN, FREDE, FREDISH, &c. &c. These extraordinary words, which have been deservedly ridiculed here as well as in England, were proposed sometime ago, and countenanced by two or three individuals, as names for the territory and people of the United States. The general term American is now commonly understood (at least in all places where the English language is spoken,) to mean an inhabitant of the United States; and is so employed, except where unusual precision of language is required. [John Pickering, "A Vocabulary, or Collection of Words and Phrases Which Have Been Supposed to be Peculiar to the United States of America," Boston, 1816]
The man's name Amerigo is Germanic, said to derive from Gothic Amalrich, literally "work-ruler." The Old English form of the name has come down as surnames Emmerich, Emery, etc. The Italian fem. form merged into Amelia.
Colloquial pronunciation "Ameri-kay," not uncommon 19c., goes back to at least 1643 and a poem that rhymed the word with away. Amerika "U.S. society viewed as racist, fascist, oppressive, etc." is attested from 1969; the spelling is German but it also might suggest the KKK.
Old English suð "southward, to the south, southern, in the south," from Proto-Germanic *sunthaz, perhaps literally "sun-side" (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian suth "southward, in the south," Middle Dutch suut, Dutch zuid, German Süden), and related to base of *sunnon "sun" (from PIE root *sawel- "the sun"). Old French sur, sud (French sud), Spanish sur, sud are loan-words from Germanic, perhaps from Old Norse suðr.
As an adjective from c. 1300; as a noun, "one of the four cardinal points," also "southern region of a country," both late 13c. The Southern states of the U.S. have been collectively called The South since 1779 (in early use this often referred only to Georgia and South Carolina). South country in Britain means the part below the Tweed, in England the part below the Wash, and in Scotland the part below the Forth. South Sea meant "the Mediterranean" (late 14c.) and "the English Channel" (early 15c.) before it came to mean (in plural) "the South Pacific Ocean" (1520s) and it was frequent for "the Pacific Ocean" generally in U.S. in early 19c. (Thoreau, J.Q. Adams).
1862; see Latin (adj.). The notion is the nations whose languages descend from Latin. Related: Latin American (adj.), 1871.
"vanish, abscond," 1920s, American English, probably from mid-19c. notion of disappearing south to Mexico or Texas to escape pursuit or responsibility, reinforced by Native American belief (attested in colonial writing mid-18c.) that the soul journeys south after death.
1815 as a name for a distinct region that had been partly settled by Europeans; 1910 as the name of a nation.
language group formerly widespread in the West Indies and South America, 1910, from the self-designation of the Arawak people on continental South America. They were identical with, or closely related to the natives whom Columbus encountered on the islands, who were historically called Taino.
indigenous pig-like animal of South America, Central America, and the U.S. Southwest, 1610s, from Spanish vaquira, baquira, from Carib (Guiana or Venezuela) pakira, paquira.
large rodent of Central and South America, 1650s, from Spanish, from Tupi (Brazil) paca, the native name for it.
great mountain system along the Pacific coast of South America, from Quechua (Inca) andi "high crest." Related: Andean.