How did the continents get named?

2 Answers

  • Z!™
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Europe: The name "Europe" is of uncertain etymology. One theory suggests that it is derived from the Greek roots meaning broad (eur-) and eye (op-, opt-), hence Eurṓpē, "wide-gazing", "broad of aspect" (compare with glaukōpis (grey-eyed) Athena or boōpis (ox-eyed) Hera). Broad has been an epithet of Earth itself in the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion. Another theory suggests that it is actually based on a Semitic word such as the Akkadian erebu meaning "to go down, set" (cf. Occident),cognate to Phoenician 'ereb "evening; west" and Arabic Maghreb, Hebrew ma'ariv (see also Erebus, PIE *h1regʷos, "darkness"). However, M. L. West states that "phonologically, the match between Europa's name and any form of the Semitic word is very poor".

    Asia: The word Asia originated from the Greek word "Ἀσία", first attributed to Herodotus (about 440 BC) in reference to Anatolia or, for the purposes of describing the Persian Wars, to the Persian Empire, in contrast to Greece and Egypt.

    North and South America: North and South America are generally accepted as having been named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci by the German cartographers Martin Waldseemüller and Matthias Ringmann. Vespucci, who explored South America between 1497 and 1502, was the first European to suggest that the Americas were not the East Indies, but a different landmass previously unknown by Europeans. In 1507, Waldseemüller produced a world map, in which he placed the word "America" on the continent of South America, in the middle of what is today Brazil.

    Australia: The name Australia is derived from the Latin Australis, meaning "Southern". Legends of an "unknown land of the south" (terra australis incognita) date back to Roman times and were commonplace in medieval geography but were not based on any documented knowledge of the continent.

    Antarctica: Antarctica: from opposite of the Arctic, which comes from arktos, Greek for bear

    Africa: Afri was the name of several peoples who dwelt in North Africa near Carthage. Their name is usually connected with Phoenician afar, "dust", but a 1981 theory[5] has asserted that it stems from a Berber word ifri or Ifran meaning "cave", in reference to cave dwellers

    Source(s): Wikipedia
  • Max
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago


    In ancient Greek mythology, Europa was a Phoenician princess who was abducted by a bull-shaped Zeus and taken to the island of Crete, where she gave birth to Minos. For Homer, Europa was a mythological queen of Crete, not a geographical designation. Later Europa stood for mainland Greece and by 500 BC its meaning was extended to lands to the north.


    Used to denote Proconsular Asia, a Roman province which embraced the western parts of Asia Minor, and of which Ephesus was the capital, in the Bible. Asia Minor is in Acts 19:26, 27; 21:27; 24:18; 27:2 etc. Proconsular Asia contained the seven churches of the Apocalypse (Rev. 1:11)

    **Asia and Europe are also viewed by a minority to mean Asia "sunrise" and Europe "sunset".


    The ancient Romans used the name Africa terra — "land of the Afri" — for the northern part of the continent, corresponding to modern-day Tunisia, where the Roman province of Africa was located. The origin of Afer, "hot and sunny" in Latin and Greek, may be the Afridi tribe's meaning .


    The name Australia derives from Latin 'australis' meaning southern, and dates back to 2nd century legends of an "unknown southern land" (ie. terra australis incognita).

    North and South America

    The earliest known use of the name America for the continents of the Americas dates from 1507. It appears on a globe and a large map created by the German cartographer Martin Waldseemuller. The name was derived from the Latinized version of the explorer Amerigo Vespucci's name, Americus Vespucius, in its feminine form, America.


    "Opposite of the Arctic". The first formal use of the name "Antarctica" as a continental name in the 1890s is attributed to the Scottish cartographer John George Bartholomew.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.