Dating of "Columbia" = America

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Jul 4 16:41:00 UTC 2008

Re-reading Ben's message and the Wikipedia
article on de Miranda, I don't think "Wikipedia gives Francisco de
Miranda as the person who conceived of using the
name to refer[] to the Americas."  Wikipedia says
"He conceived the name Colombia _for this
empire_, after the explorer Christopher Columbus"
(emphasis added).  The "empire" was to "consist[]
of all the territories that had been under
Spanish and Portuguese rule, stretching from the
Mississippi River to Cape Horn."  So it was not
the Americas in total, merely all of Central and
South America (and a good chunk of western North
America to boot).  And in any case, his use of
"Colombia" circa 1800-1810 was at least 60 years
after earlier uses to refer to America..

I would now confidently assert that Read (named
in Dave Wilton's message) is correct:  "Columbia"
was developed in England circa 1738-1741, and perhaps coined by Samuel Johnson.


At 7/3/2008 08:50 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>There might be a dual origin here as Wikipedia gives Francisco de
>Miranda as the person who conceived of using the name to refers to the
>The name "Colombia" comes from the name of Christopher Columbus
>(Cristóbal Colón in Spanish, Cristoforo Colombo in Italian) and was
>conceived by the revolutionary Francisco de Miranda as a reference to
>the New World, especially to all American territories and colonies
>under Spanish and Portuguese rule.
>Miranda envisioned an independent empire consisting of all the
>territories that had been under Spanish and Portuguese rule,
>stretching from the Mississippi Riverto Cape Horn. This empire was to
>be under the leadership of a hereditary emperor called the "Inca", in
>honor of the great Indian Empire, and would have a bicameral
>legislature. He conceived the name Colombia for this empire, after the
>explorer Christopher Columbus.
>On Jul 3, 2008, at 5:42 PM, Dave Wilton wrote:
>>Allen Walker Read's _America--Naming the Country and Its People_,
>>Mellen Press, 2001 has this 1660 citation from Nicholas Fuller, an
>>Clergyman, p. 27:
>>" every where called America: but according to Truth, and
>>Desert; men
>>should rather call it Columbina, from the magnani mous Heroe
>>Columbus a Genoese, who was manifestly Appointed of GOD to be the
>>Finder out
>>of these Lands. But why should a learned Man make all this Dirige for
>>Columbus's Name! What matter is it how America be called?"
>>(found in Samuel Sewall, _Phaenomena quaedam Apocalyptica ad
>>Adspectum Novi
>>Orbis configurata_, Boston, 1697, p. 47.
>>Read also says "the form 'Columbia' was developed in England in the
>>but provides no citations of use.
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On
>>Behalf Of
>>Joel S. Berson
>>Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2008 3:30 PM
>>Subject: Q: Dating of "Columbia" = America
>>What is known about the earliest use of "Columbia" to refer to
>>I presume a Google search would be pointless (unless someone can
>>suggest a really refined search condition!), and I don't know where
>>else to look.  The OED omits "Columbia", I assume because it's a
>>place na
>The American Dialect Society -

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