[Ads-l] Fw: [ADS-L] Origin of the name "United States of America"

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Sun Aug 23 15:00:12 UTC 2015

"United Colonies of North America" was in print as early as July, 1775. Then with independence, states rather than colonies, and north dropped.


From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> ...on behalf of Joel Berson ...
Sent: Saturday, August 22, 2015 11:26 AM
To: ...
Subject: [ADS-L] Origin of the name "United States of America"

      From: Joel Berson ...
 To: American Dialect Society ...
 Sent: Saturday, August 22, 2015 11:00 AM
 Subject: Origin of the name "United States of America"

The question below has been asked on C18-L.  If anyone can help, reply either here (and I'll forward the reply) or directly to C18-L.

I'm embarrassed to say that, although I'm a student of colonial history, I haven't a clue as to reasons for the choice.  However, the name seems so natural and inevitable for the time that perhaps there's nothing to be found.  I do know that "United States" and "United States of America" were both used early, before the Confederation was established.  See the OED; and Wikipedia's article "United States", section "Etymology" (which claims some early citations for "United States of America", possibly slightly antedating the OED).


I am looking for studies on the history of the choice of the terms "United States of America" to refer to the union of the independent
North American English colonies. Did the terms "United Kingdom" play a
role? "United Provinces of the Netherlands"? Thank you to those who
could advise me on this.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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