America. What a problematic word. 

To understand its roots, we must go back in time. A map created in 1507 by Martin Waldseemüller was the first to depict this unindustrialized continent with the name “America,” a Latinized version of Amerigo (Miller, 2018). After about four hundred years, during the Spanish-American War, the United States annexed the Spanish colonies Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam and the non-Spanish lands of Hawaii and American Samoa. This was the US’s proud entrance into the imperial stage. The country’s old names (which included the Republic, the Union, and the United States) were no longer appropriate. To match the grandness of the country’s imperialistic nature, the nation’s writers proposed a few new names: Imperial America, The Greater Republic, and The Greater United States. However, the name that stuck was America. 

As time has passed, the United States has taken this word and made it its own demonym. This gradual action of taking a word and claiming it has caused an ongoing dispute between many people from different parts of the continent. Some argue that since the US has the word America in its name, then it is right to call its citizens Americans. After all, this demonym rolls off tongues very easily. Nevertheless, any person born in the Americas has the right to call themselves an American, whether or not they identify themselves as “from the United States.” According to an article written by Daniel Immerwahr published in Mother Jones, this demonym has been used to refer to US citizens since before the 20th century. 


After the US gained independence, its citizens took much pride in their country and “American” culture began to change. For example, people would now get together annually on the 4th of July to celebrate the colonies’ separation from England. These patriotic ideals also shaped their education and nationalistic actions, such as pledging allegiance to the flag and singing the national anthem, became a part of student life. These movements paved the way for the words “America” and “American” to exponentially root themselves in the US’s culture, and it turned into a concept many individuals identify themselves with now.

The problem here lies with the vocabulary and language. America is not only the United States, it is the combination of North America, Central America, and South America. Because the demonym is so deeply connected to the United States, it will not be easy to modify. However, when did we as a people ever restrain from doing something that was not easy? I believe that it is time to come together as continents and modify this term in order to respect all inhabitants of the Americas. The solution is one that may seem atypical at first, but once it is accepted into daily language, it will prosper. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term “United Statesians” as a native or inhabitant of the United States; nonetheless, this noun is wordy and hard to pronounce. I believe the best way to solve this global argument over the term American is to create a new demonym for the US. A potential solution could simply be “Statians,” but in order for it to be successfully integrated, it must be accepted by US citizens first. This will take time, but together we can remove a problematic term and replace it with an updated and respectful noun. Think about it: could the next generations use the word Statians instead of Americans? That’s up to us.


Allen, Erin. “How Did America Get Its Name?” Library of Congress Blog, 4 July 2016, 


Immerwahr, Daniel. “When Did the US Start Calling Itself ‘America,’ Anyway?” Mother Jones, 4 July 2019,


Miller, Greg. “A 500-Year-Old Map Used By Columbus Reveals Its Secrets”. Culture, 2018,


The Answer Wall. “Why Do People of the United States Call Themselves ‘Americans’?” The Answer Wall, 13 Feb. 2020,

“United Statesian.” The Merriam-Webster.Com Dictionary, Accessed 23 Sept. 2021.