Posted by R. Berg on May 06, 2001
In Reply to: Nation posted by CT on May 06, 2001
: Big debate elsewhere about when the word or concept 'nation' was first used. Any ideas?
The earliest quotations containing "nation" in the Oxford English Dictionary are dated approx. 1300. Example: "All naciun and lede aght vr lauerd for to drede." The OED has an editorial comment, "In early examples the racial idea is usually stronger than the political; in recent use the notion of political unity and independence is more prominent."
Another sense in which "nation" was used early was religious: "the nations" meant "the heathen nations, the Gentiles." The OED's first quotation for this sense is dated approx. 1340.