Alternative adjectives for U.S. citizens

Alternative adjectives for U.S. citizens

There are a number of alternative adjectives to "American" as a demonym for a person of the United States that cannot simultaneously mean any inhabitant of the Americas.

The most widely used and recognized term in English for a person of the United States is "American". Other terms were used historically, and some modern attempts have been made to develop different terms for political or humorous reasons.

The use of American as a national demonym for United States citizens has been challenged primarily by Latin Americans since 1816 or earlier (and Canadians prior to 1867). fact|date=September 2007

Some, mostly outside of the United States, perceive use of the word "America" for the United States of America as culturally aggressive as others use the word to refer to the entirety of the New World.

However, residents of what would become and what is the United States of America have been using the adjectives "America" and "American" to describe themselves since colonial times.


The best-known alternative words for people of the United States in English are understood to be pejorative and may also be ambiguous:
* The People from the United States Constitution
* Amerikan
* Gabacho (This term usually is not pejorative)
* Gringo
* Yankee/Yank
* Yanqui
* Ricain (in France)
* Seppo (in Australia) or Septic (in Britain), both from "Yank" via Cockney rhyming slang" Jodrell (Bank) & Sherman (Tank) are alternatives used in the British Armed Forces"
* Uhmerikun, Merkin (OED Draft Entry, 2002) or "Murkun" (mocking regional pronunciation)

Alternative terms in English

One colonial adjective was Virginian, since Virginia was the mother of colonies and states. Virginia as a toponym, originally extended all along the Eastern Seaboard. Other regions like "New England" and the "Mid-Atlantic" emerged as splinter collectives from joint stock administration in the Virginia Company. New England was originally called "northern Virginia", especially in transport manifests for colonists. Economic divergence stimulated separated identities, especially since the London (based at Fort James) and Plymouth (based at Fort Saint George) companies were divided by the Dutch and Swedish Middle Colonies.

Alternative demonyms proposed for U.S. citizens are:

:from America::* Americanite:* Americian:* Amerikean (see Richard Amerike)

:from Columbia::* Columbian:* Columbard

:from United States [of America] ::* Usonian (pronEng|juːˈsoʊniən):* United States American, U.S. American, USAian, Usan, USAn, Usanian, Usian (pronounced IPA|/ˈjuːʒən/), U-S-ian, Unisan or Unisian, Uesican (pronounced IPA|/juːˈɛsɨkən/) or Uessian (pronounced IPA|/juːˈɛsiən/):* United Stater, Stater, United Stateser, United Statesian, United Statesman, or United Statian:* Unitizen, Statizen:* Statesider (excludes citizens of Alaska, Hawaii, and the territories)

:others::* American-National :* Appalacian - from the geographical region of Appalachia:* Colonican:* Eagle (from the national bird, compare to Kiwi for a New Zealander):* Frede or Fredonian - presumably by identification with freedom [] .:* Johnny (from Brother Jonathan):* Leftpondian - as it's on the left side of the pond. Frequently used on newsgroups, e.g. alt.usage.english.:* Nacirema (backwards spelling of "American" used in a satire of sociology by anthropologist Horace Mitchell Miner, "Body Ritual among the Nacirema"):* Realtor (proposed by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. in "Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons") :* Sam (from Uncle Sam) :* Unionist:* Washingtonian - from George Washington, Washington state or Washington, D.C.:* Yank (see the movie, the former army periodical, and the lyrics of "Over There" for the rehabilitation of this sometimes pejorative term)

Although there might be good arguments in favor of some of these terms, "American" remains by far the most common word for a citizen of the USA. "Usonian" is used for an architectural style, and "Washingtonian" remains as the adjective for the state of Washington and the city of Washington, D.C.

"Columbian", derived from the original popular name for the United States, "Columbia", would likely cause unacceptable confusion with "Colombian", which today relates to the modern Republic of Colombia. "Colombia", like "America", historically referred to the New World as a whole.

Other languages

* (Spanish for "North American") is common in Latin America, but suffers from the same kind of ambiguity as "American", since Canadians and Mexicans, amongst others, are also North Americans. For that reason, _es. "estadounidense" is also frequently used and tends to be preferred in formal language, as in _es. "dólar estadounidense" ("U.S. dollar").
* In Portuguese, _pt. "norte-americano" is the most commonly used term. _pt. "Estadunidense" is gaining some popularity, specifically in Brazil, where its usage traditionally rises during times of tension with the USA.
* The Esperanto term for the United States of America is _eo. "Usono". This is generally thought to come from "Usonia". In Esperanto, one forms the word for a citizen of a given country using the suffix "-an" which means "member of". Therefore a citizen of the United States is _eo. "usonano". (Such derived words are not capitalized.) Esperanto terms for the American geographic regions and their people are _eo. Ameriko/ _eo. amerikano, _eo. Norda Ameriko/ _eo. nordamerikano, _eo. Meza Ameriko/mezamerikano, and _eo. Suda Ameriko/ _eo. sudamerikano.
* In French, _fr. "États-Unien"("ne"), _fr. "Étatsunien"("ne") or _fr. "Étasunien"("ne") are occasionally used, but considered pedantic in speech.
* In Italian the term _it. "Statunitense" (from _it. "Stati Uniti", United States) is widely used.
* In German, _de. "US-Amerikaner" may be used to avoid ambiguity or to be politically correct, but it may come across as pedantic if used conversationally. _de. "Amerikaner" is in general usage in Germany, and is widely accepted to refer to the United States. _de. "Ami" is a colloquialism which unambiguously refers to U.S. citizens. The German usage of _de. "Ami" is akin to the Mexican usage of _es. "Gringo", in that it can be neutral, patronizing, or perhaps even affectionate.

ee also

*American (word)


cite book
title = Oxford English Dictionary
publisher = Oxford University Press
date= Draft Entry, June 2002
url =

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