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
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 
banana republic (n.)

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

Related entries & more 
guinea pig (n.)

rodent native to South America, 1660s. It does not come from Guinea and has nothing to do with the pig. Perhaps so called either because it was brought back to Britain aboard Guinea-men, ships that plied the triangle trade between England, Guinea, and South America [Barnhart, Klein], or from its resemblance to the young of the Guinea-hog "river pig" [OED], or from confusion of Guinea with the South American region of Guyana (but OED is against this). Pig probably for its grunting noises. In the extended sense of "one subjected to an experiment" it is first recorded 1920, because they were commonly used in medical experiments (by 1865).

Related entries & more 
Puerto Rican 

1873 (n.), "native or inhabitant of Puerto Rico;" 1874 (adj.), "of or pertaining to Puerto Rico or its inhabitants and culture," from Puerto Rico + -an. Earlier was Porto Rican (1842).

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 
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 
jai alai (n.)

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

Related entries & more 
John Q. Public (n.)

"imaginary average American citizen," 1934; the Q perhaps suggested by John Quincy Adams.

Related entries & more