Etymology
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Seven Seas (n.)

by 1823 in representations of Persian or Oriental phrases, or sometimes in reference to seven seas forming part of the Hindu cosmology or to the Talmudists' supposed seven seas of Israel (some of which are obscure lakes); see seven. It is in Burton's "Arabian Nights" (1886) and probably was popularized by one of the versions of Fitzgerald's Omar Khayyam (from which Kipling got it as a book title). To the extent that the phrase has been applied, awkwardly, to global geography, they would be the Arctic, Antarctic, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, and Indian oceans.

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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).

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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.

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Black Hills 

South Dakota landform, translating Lakhota pahá-sapa; supposedly so called because their densely forested flanks look dark from a distance.

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banana republic (n.)

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

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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.

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white trash (n.)

1824, originally in African-American vernacular in the South.

The slaves themselves entertain the very highest contempt for white servants, whom they designate as 'poor white trash.' [Fanny Kemble, journal, Jan. 6, 1833]
[T]he term [poor white] is rather loosely applied by Northern writers even to mountaineers and to small farmers who live on a precarious footing. But in the Southern conception, not everyone who is both poor and white is a "poor white." To the Southerner, the "poor white" in the strictest sense is a being beyond the pale of even the most generous democratic recognition; in the negro's term, "po' white trash," or so much social débris. [Robert Penn Warren, "The Briar Patch," 1930, footnote]
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