Why is the U.S. called America?

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This topic contains 31 replies, has 30 voices, and was last updated by  Rob29701 5 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #46040

    Beth
    Member

    Well, I don’t know if this is a satisfactory response, but I don’t think it has anything to do with U.S. citizens having a superiority complex. Rather, I believe that it’s just a matter of shortening a long name — United States of America. That’s our official title, as far as I know. Some people say U.S.A., others say U.S., others say United States, and others still say America. Or, if your like me, you use all of them. I think you’ll find that most countries have similar situations where the citizenry has shortened the name over time or for convenience.

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    Name : Beth, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Atheist, Age : 29, City : Pensacola, State : FL Country : United States, Occupation : grant writer, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #47183

    Rob29701
    Participant

    Mixcoatl- I often have asked the same question that you have asked. Maybe it is because the word ‘America’ is in our country’s name. ( our country’s full name is the United States of America.) Or maybe it’s because Americans enjoy flaunting their ego a lot (ego: a persons self worth.) I think it is probably a combination of both. Maybe we should change our name to the United States of North America, so instead of my country’s inhabitants unfairly refering to this country as just ‘America,’ we will be more aware of the world around us and say ‘North America.’

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    Name : Rob29701, Gender : M, Age : 18, City : Enfield, State : CT Country : United States, Social class : Middle class, 
    #38283

    I agree. However, I don’t think it’s us calling ourselves America. It’s the damn media, both here and abroad.

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    Name : B.D. Summers, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Catholic, Age : 21, City : vermillion, State : SD Country : United States, Occupation : student, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Lower class, 
    #29555

    R30350
    Participant

    Two things. First, it’s easier than saying ‘a person from the United States of America’ or making something up like United Statesian. It seems to be the easiest thing for anyone to say, and I believe that played a big role in it. But also, I know in the U.S. colonial time there was a lot of pride in being American. Since there was no U.S.A. here yet, American meant from the Americas (by convention I count it as two continents, north and south.) I remember when I had history, one woman introduced to the British court, or something like that (I wasn’t paying the best of attention) insisted on being introduced as an American rather than a British colonist from the Americas. This pride probably lingered, since the us vs. them mentality at the time was America vs. Europe (most specifically Great Britan), at least in the colonies. And again, it’s easier to say. I was in Canada once, and I was handing some money back to a lady who dropped it, and she said ‘Oh, are you an American?’ I simply said yes, but I remembering thinking ‘Aren’t you too?’

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    Name : R30350, City : Nowhere, State : MI Country : United States, 
    #15222

    Charles32270
    Participant

    First, let me say that I think the practice comes from the fact that only the US has ‘America’ in the name of its country. It’s shorthand to use the most unique part of the name, like calling the People’s Republic of China ‘China’. But secondly, let me say it’s also because us Americans are a self-important bunch. Frank Lloyd Wright proposed calling the inhabitants of our country ‘Usonians’ – an elegant and inventive solution that unfortunately completely failed to catch on.

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    Name : Charles32270, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 24, City : Albuquerque, State : NM Country : United States, Occupation : Architect, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #28201

    Duncan25691
    Participant

    The formal name for the US is ‘The United States of America’. Since, of all those words, only America can be considered a name, it is the one that has been adopted as the name for the inhabitants of the country.

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    Name : Duncan25691, Gender : M, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 23, City : Darlington, State : NA Country : United Kingdom, 
    #17392

    Jerry
    Member

    It isn’t just U.S. residents who refer to their country as America. Almost everyone overseas does the same thing. And don’t even Spanish speakers refer to residents of the U.S. as ‘los Americanos’?

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    Name : Jerry, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Gay, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Humanist, Age : 50, City : Burnaby, State : NA Country : Canada, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #44668

    Jerry
    Member

    Well, the full name of the country is the United States of America, which is a mouthful. For brevity’s sake, people usually say either ‘the United States’ OR ‘America’. In any case, the country’s inhabitants are always called Americans – even by people who refuse to call the country ‘America’. Calling the country America seems like the more logical (though also more ambiguous) alternative of the two. (America/American; Italy/Italian, Russia/Russian, etc. Do you see the logic?)

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    Name : Jerry, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Gay, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Humanist, Age : 50, City : Burnaby, State : NA Country : Canada, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #22461

    Kate26611
    Participant

    Well, the official name of the U.S. is The United States of America. I think most people just find it easier to shorten it to ‘America’ when making references to it. Also, what would we call the people of the United States? United Statesians? United Statesites? ‘American’ is the easiest thing to call us. Certainly North America is a continent and not exclusively the United States. Also, I think the United States take pride in the name ‘America’ and all the ideals it’s supposed to uphold. That is, ‘America’ is a dignified name a nation can take pride in (and the United States are very much into national pride).

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    Name : Kate26611, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 21, City : Shreveport, State : LA Country : United States, Social class : Middle class, 
    #15819

    What is the alternative? Most countries have distinctive names from which an obvious adjective can be formed. But what if the name of your country is as generic as ‘The United States of America’? The Statesmen? The United Ones? ‘American’ is the only viable choice.

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    Name : R. E. Taylor, Gender : M, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 55, City : Houston, State : TX Country : United States, Social class : Middle class, 
    #13928

    J-French21291
    Participant

    It does seem odd that the US refers to itself by two names, one that is ours and one that is not. I think the reason we thoughtlessly co-opt ‘America’ is our obsession with our ‘discovery’ as a continent. The US has a great cultural occupation with the stories, often conflicting, of the way intrepid explorers landed on our shores and established ‘civilization’ as we know it. One of the first to actually land on the area that would become the US (I think) was Amerigo Vespucci. Others had landed before him, but they usually hit islands off the coasts. Therefore, he gets to name the continent. And since US citizens are one of the few groups on our American continents that have a generally positive view of the European colonization of the land we live on, we like the thought of being named after an explorer.

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    Name : J-French21291, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Christian, Age : 24, City : Houston, State : TX Country : United States, Occupation : unemployment, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Lower class, 
    #32092

    Patrick
    Member

    I understand your point, but the name of the nation is the United States of America. When it was founded, that is what it was named. Sure, you can assume arrogance on the part of the founders that they thought they would always be the only independent nation in these 2 continents. But that doesn’t mean the usage is due to some arrogance on the part of the people using it. This is what we have always been called, from within and without. The usage fits the form the shortened name of other countries and their peoples. ie. United Mexican States is shortened to Mexico and the people are Mexicans. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is shortened to Venezuela and the people are Venezuelans. United States of America is shortened to America and the people are Americans.

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    Name : Patrick, City : Birmingham, State : AL Country : United States, 
    #26353

    Lil22916
    Participant

    Since traveling to Costa Rica some years ago, I have been sensitive to the fact that everybody on the continents of South America and North America are Americans. It’s in the names. We know that Asians are not just Chinese, and Europeans are not just Germans. Costa Ricans think that people from the United States are rather arrogant calling themselves Americans because people in Costa Rica are Americans too. I think part of the problem is that there is no word in our language for ‘person from the United States.’ I learned the Spanish word, estadounidense, and sometimes I find myself using that in conversation simply because in English I’d have to choose between ‘person from the United States’ or ‘American’ for people to understand who I’m talking about. Still, I always make a point not to call U.S. residents ‘Americans,’ especially when comparing with Mexicans, Cubans, Columbians, Brazilians, etc.

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    Name : Lil22916, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Catholic, Age : 19, City : Macomb, State : IL Country : United States, Occupation : student, Education level : High School Diploma, Social class : Upper middle class, 
    #29449

    Wyn
    Member

    Well, folks in the US are Americans. If I went to Europe, I would call myself an American. If I went to Mexico I would call myself a US citizen. If I went to a state that was not my own I would call myself a Georgian. If I went to Europe and someone asked me where I lived, I wouldn’t tell them the name of my town. That would be meaningless to them. I agree the media uses America pretty indiscriminatingly to mean US citizens. Also, US citizen is longer to say than American and sounds more ridiculous.

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    Name : Wyn, Gender : F, Race : White/Caucasian, City : Augusta, State : GA Country : United States, 
    #26870

    Teresa19740
    Participant

    I don’t understand why there’s a huge chunk of land called ‘America’ since the early 16th century, but my country gets to be called plain America. And it’s not just my countrymen who call my country ‘America’ and its inhabitants ‘Americans.’ I go to Europe and everyone calls me American. As for a reason…I don’t know. For years now I’ve refered to my country as ‘the U.S.’ or ‘the United States,’ even in casual conversation, because since I traveled to Costa Rica, ‘America’ means all the land of North America and South America. Now when I hear people say something like ‘America’s relations with Mexico are…’ I want to scream. The problem for me comes in the name of our nationality. In English, what can I call myself? There is no word known to me that means ‘inhabitant of the United States of America’ or ‘that being from the United States of America,’ so I end up saying ‘American.’ Sometimes I use ‘estadounidense’ (Spanish), but not a lot of people understand that.

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    Name : Teresa19740, Gender : F, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Christian, Age : 20, City : Macomb, State : IL Country : United States, Occupation : student, 
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