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North America

Posted by R Berg on February 22, 2010 at 16:39

In Reply to: North America posted by G. Cauldron on February 20, 2010 at 16:27:

: Anyone have any idea when the term "North America" was first used to describe the the landmass to which it refers today? Thanks very much!

It's hard to tell. The earliest citation in the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary is dated 1766 and listed under "north" as an adjective. It uses "North-American" to denote a resident of North America. There is no separate entry for "North America" or even for "America," although "American" is there. The appendix to that edition, which contains information gathered too late for the main text, has more for "North American" as a noun and an adjective but nothing earlier than 1766. In the appendix, the "North American" entry explains North America as including Mexico. (It says nothing about Guatemala and so forth.) We now put Mexico in Central America, or at least we did when I went to school. So I don't know when the more northerly line was drawn. Maybe someone with other reference books can help. ~rb