island in the Greater Antilles group of the West Indies, Spanish, literally "rich harbor;" see port (n.1) + rich (adj.). The name was given in 1493 by Christopher Columbus to the large bay on the north side of the island; he called the island itself San Juan. Over time the name of the bay became the name of the island and the name of the island was taken by the town that grew up at the bay. Often spelled Porto Rico in 19c.; the current spelling was made official in 1932.