Etymology
Advertisement
American dream 

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.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
gila monster (n.)

"venomous lizard of the American southwest" (Heloderma suspectum), 1877, American English, from Gila River, which runs through its habitat in Arizona. The river name probably is from an Indian language, but it is unknown now which one, or what the word meant in it.

Related entries & more 
West Indies 

Caribbean islands explored by Columbus, 1550s, reflecting the belief (or hope) that they were western outliers of the Indies of Asia. Related: West Indian, which is from 1580s in reference to the native inhabitants, 1650s in reference to European settlers there, and 1928 in reference to people of West Indian ancestry.

Related entries & more 
banana republic (n.)

"small Central American state with an economy dependent on banana production," 1901, American English.

Related entries & more 
Yankee Doodle (n.)

popular tune of the American Revolution, apparently written c. 1755 by British Army surgeon Dr. Richard Schuckburgh while campaigning with Amherst's force in upper New York during the French and Indian War. The original verses mocked the colonial troops (see Yankee) serving alongside the regulars, and the Doodle element might have been, or hinted at, the 18c. slang term for "penis." The song naturally was popular with British troops in the colonies during the Revolutionary War, but after the colonials began to win skirmishes with them in 1775, they took the tune as a patriotic prize and re-worked the lyrics. The current version seems to have been written in 1776 by Edward Bangs, a Harvard sophomore who also was a Minuteman.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
drug store (n.)

also drug-store, 1810, American English, "pharmacy, store that sells medications and related products," from drug (n.) + store (n.). Drug-store cowboy is 1925, American English slang, originally someone who dressed like a Westerner but obviously wasn't.

Related entries & more 
chicken hawk (n.)

type of hawk that is believed to prey on domestic fowl, 1802, American English. Figuratively, from the secondary senses of both words, "public person who advocates war but declined significant opportunity to serve in uniform during wartime," at least 1988, American English. From chicken (n.) + hawk (n.).

Related entries & more 
go south (v.)

"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.

Related entries & more 
Latin America 

1862; see Latin (adj.). The notion is the nations whose languages descend from Latin. Related: Latin American (adj.), 1871.

Related entries & more 
jai alai (n.)

1902, American English, originally in a Cuban context, from Basque, from jai "celebration" + alai "merry."

Related entries & more