Talk:Names for United States citizens

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Proposed merge to general demonyms page[edit]

about naming conventions for different nationalities/groups that this could be merged into?

also, it is my opinion that the title of this article be changed to simply "United States" as one heading in this article i'm referring to, and if it doesn't should it exist?

Citation of 'Merkin'[edit]

In response to: Iceberg3k, according to a couple of folks I asked at Wikipedia: Verifiability, citations from a pay source, while not prefered are perfectly fine. There is considerable scope for verifiability as a large number of Unversities have access to the OED online. Equally possibly one could check a hard copy in a library, although I'm not sure if this definition would feature as yet, only having been made in 2002.

Can you suggest any free site of comparable entomological authority which could be referenced? As there is already a citation there is no reason to have a citation request. --Neo 12:31, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

I verify that the OED's on-line edition gives the following etymology:
[Alteration of AMERICAN n. (prob. after U.S. pronunciation), perh. punningly after MERKIN n1]
and the following quotations:
1990 Re: Interesting Idioms in (Usenet newsgroup) 1 Feb., Well, not always. Andy Roxburgh is Scotlands coach, we have no manager the noo. What's 'merkin for ‘booked’, or alternatively, ‘Right, sonwalk!’ 1992 Re: RFD: sci.cryonics in news.groups (Usenet newsgroup) 27 May, To me, cryonics means fridges etc (sorry ‘refrigerators’ to you 'merkins). 1993 Star Tribune (Minneapolis) 26 Sept. 24A, Computer software [in Portugal] is in ‘Merkin’ (American English), and so are a lot of the courses at the Institute of Technology at the University of Lisboa. 1994 Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) 21 Aug. B3 Black related an anecdote about touring the South back in the 1960s when his group [sc. Jay and the Americans] was referred to as ‘Jay and the Merkins’. 1994 W. SAFIRE in N.Y. Times Mag. 11 Sept. 45/1 Americans have seized on this Britishism, which has become the most important contribution of the mother country to the lingo we call Merkin since not to worry and spot on. 1999 Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) (Nexis) 14 May 15 L.A. is only marginally American. It's a modern-day Babel, where it's the ‘real merkins’ who must feel linguistically and culturally alienated.
I believe it to be substantially older than 1990, possibly as old as Mencken; it has always been a spoof, usually in American English, of, I would suppose, General American pronunciationm akthough one of these suggests Southern (Alabamian?); I would spell it Murkin.-Septentrionalis 04:37, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
fine. There is considerable scope for verifiability as a large number of Unversities have access to the OED online. Equally possibly one could check a hard copy in a library, although I'm not sure if this definition would feature as yet, only having been made in 2002. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)
"Murrikan, huh?" is a book by Mark Orkin about American English, published in 1976. Sluggoster (talk) 08:20, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Where might I find this book? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:27, 11 August 2009 (UTC)

Only for "citizens?"[edit]

Shouldn't this be Adjectives for U.S. residents? What about Dred Scott or Robert E. Lee? -Acjelen 05:47, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

Overly technical. The US doesn't have slavery any longer and Rob't E Lee would correctly be described as a Confederate during the period when he wasn't a US citizen. I'm sure the distinction they're trying to make is with American Americans and foreign nationals, even if they should happen to reside within the United States. -LlywelynII (talk) 00:05, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Acjelen is correct; see demonym for confirmation that it's not a commentary on citizenship, but rather residence. This article should be changed to something like Demonyms for the United States. Feel free to submit a move proposal. -- Regards, PhilipR (talk) 18:22, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
But Americans abroad, who are not resident, are still called Americans. It's more like ethnic identity than either citizenship or location. — kwami (talk) 21:46, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
True, and residents in the definition statement of the demonym article is probably still too narrow. But it's certainly broader than citizens. So the title of this article is still too narrow. (I now see this topic has been discussed more recently below.) - Regards, PhilipR (talk) 01:00, 16 June 2010 (UTC)

Anti-American POV[edit]

this page seems to be highly biased in favor of the probably small minority who complain about the term "American". it's also filled with weasel words ("some say that ..."). i tried to fix it up; e.g. its "other languages" section claimed that lots of other languages use terms other than "American", and then quoted a bunch of English slang words and terms from obscure artificial languages. Benwing 07:39, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

Most people on Latin America complaing agains the term America, and Latin America population almost doubles the US population, it's biased in favor of the US minority
If you have good reliable sources to back up that POV, it would be great for the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:21, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
Considering that the predominant language of Latin America is Spanish (and in the case of Brazil, Portuguese), I don't see how they get a vote in what words English speakers are allowed to use or not use. No more than I as an English speaker would have any say in what Spanish or Portuguese words they might use to describe themselves. Nolefan32 01:03, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
This entire article smells of troll. I'd go as far as to nominate deletion. Silly pointless cruft poking fun at United States isn't encyclopedic at all. Sneakernets 04:32, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
disagree, the article is not anti-(US)american. it points out a legitimate issue of ambiguity of usage of the term. npov is on the side of acknowledging that. it is biased towards the US usage not to. Lx 121 (talk) 11:46, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
Anti-(US)american*******That's funny. And the lower case *a* is meant as an insult. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:54, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
This talk page has taught me a valuable lesson. I've been getting the impression on WP that silly paranoid nationalistic tripe is a product of the Balkans. It's eye opening, and not a little embarrassing, to see that this article—and even capitalization!—produces the same kind of knee-jerk reaction from US Americans as the Macedonia article produces from Greeks and Slavs. If ever we needed an non-biological illustration that we truly are monkeys, articles like this provide it. kwami (talk) 19:10, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
Blow it out your ass Kwami. It'll sound much better. Anyway you're needed at the Anti-american Sent. Page. Some Asshole american is bad-mouthing those wonderful People that Hate him so much.
For readers who, like me, arrived at this thread via a mainstream media reference to Wikipedia editors squabbling over the term "America", I'd like to say something about the above comment. Please don't get the idea that this is normal. It's an unsigned comment by an anonymous editor. As a Wikipedia editor myself, I could delete it on the grounds that it is (in ascending order of seriousness) uncivil, vulgar, and a personal attack, all of which are violations of Wikipedia policy. However, I'm going to leave it because 1) it makes for a better squabble 2) it illuminates the nature of the dispute, and 3) it's been here since July 7, 2009. We don't delete all of these things, although maybe we should. Margin1522 (talk) 21:02, 19 August 2013 (UTC)

Sub-Proposed Deletion[edit]

I do not think that this article is very encyclopedic, and should be deleted. This article could possibly be improved, in my opinion, if it had a major rewrite, and was moved to a more appropriate name. This article violates NPOV, and that's just the title. To find a consensus on whether this request should be moved to Proposed Deletion, please poll in the space below. GrooveDog 02:29, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

  • Support GrooveDog 02:29, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Comment - wasn't the article originaly at something like Alternative adjectives for U.S. citizens - this strikes me as a better title, there are some sources which attest to the use or proposed use of alternate terms, and should hopefuly help with POV issues (as it does not imply that the current adjective is inappropriate). --Neo 17:08, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Keep - article is actually informative and I found it useful. Jo9100 02:17, 15 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Keep (qualified) - article is useful, but needs a more sensical title (see below) — RVJ 11:37, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Support has no place on the Wikipedia Sneakernets 04:35, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Keep or combine with related material; the usage of "american" IS different between US & non-US english speakers. see the bbc for examples. the default international style seems to favour specifying the US first, then using "american" as appropriate, thereafter. i'm sorry but this really is a very sharp dividing line between the USA & the rest of the world. it is not a "minority" view. wikipolicy on neutral pov, international pov, is relevant here. wikipedia is an encyclopedia for the world, not just "americans", style & usage of terminology needs to reflect that. the writing could be improved tho. Lx 121 (talk) 11:44, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Keep. There is a controversy about the name of US citizens and it deserves to be documented. (By the way, the British seem to use the term "America" even in cases where Americans say "the US".) Sluggoster (talk) 08:28, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Keep, although the American debate should be kept separate on its (word) page. -LlywelynII (talk) 00:09, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

"Alternative adjectives for U.S. citizens" sucks, too.[edit]

  • Non-U.S. vandals must not have found it yet…
  • Non-citizen nationals.
  • Wait. Isn't this article about nouns?

If it were up to me, I'd tighten it up and either merge it back into American (word) or move it to Alternative words for American: it would need a subtopic for Latin American usage, and some retrofitting in American (word), but it will make sense, and be pleasingly parallel to Alternative words for British. —RVJ 11:37, 8 August 2007 (UTC)

Brazilian POV[edit]

First of all I have nothing against people from USA. I have relatives there, some naturalized and some really United Statian. The real problem is not politican either prejudice, anger and so on. The real problem is America isn't only USA, but Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and all other countries from our continent. That's why we preferer to use "United Statian" (Estadunidense, Estadounidense, Estado-Unidense). Mizunoryu 大熊猫❤小熊猫 (talk) 21:50, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

If you have any reliable sources which discuss that point of view that would be something good to add to the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:14, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
Who'se "we" Mizunoryu? You and your brother. AlPA
I apologize for the confusion on reverting your edit. I reverted your edit because both the Spanish and Portuguese languages were already discussed in the first 2 bullets under "Other languages", so your addition was a repeat (both estadounidense and estadunidense were covered). Kman543210 (talk) 22:10, 21 July 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, I noticed that just now. No problem.Mizunoryu 大熊猫❤小熊猫 (talk) 22:37, 21 July 2008 (UTC)
I am Brazilian as well and I disagree. I can affirm that the problem many Brazilians have with the word "American" is 140% motivated by anti-Americanism and silly pride. Mexico is called "Mexican United States" and yet we call them Mexicans, not Unitedstatesians. South Africans are morons, because Zimbabweans and Mozambicans also are South Africans aren't they? Yet who complains about South Africa? Same goes for Ecuador, the Equator belongs to many countries, Brazil included, but no one complains about Ecuadorians. Double, triple, quadruple standard! Once again: the problem many Brazilians have with the word "American" is 140% motivated by anti-Americanism, and this political motivation is absent from the article. (talk) 01:40, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
If you have any reliable sources which discuss that point of view that would be something good to add to the article.--Cúchullain t/c 02:32, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Seconded. -LlywelynII (talk) 00:12, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

I believe you 100% 201, thanks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:36, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

That point of view is not only of the Brazilians but is the same for all the other Americans in the American continent! America is from Canada to Argentina and Chile... not only the USA! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:07, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

Yeah um not really....South Americans are commonly refered to as Latin Americans or South Americans. People in Canada prefer to be called Canadians, call them American and expect an angry reaction. Mexicans like to be called Mexicans , North Americans is a way to generalize the residents of North America. But the people who live in the USA like to be called Americans not Statians or Uninians or whatever else you anti-American clowns can think of.Tra3535 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:01, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

The real problem is that, in the English-speaking world, "America" is considered two continents: North America (from Canada down to the Panama-Columbia border) and South America. But, in the Spanish-speaking world (plus Brazil), they are considered one continent: America. So in English, the place is actually called "The Americas". Therefore, since in English, there really isn't a place called America per se, people are fine with using that term to refer to the U.S. Anyway, I've switched over to called the people U.S.-Americans. (talk) 20:02, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

Total rewrite[edit]

I've rewritten this article into what I hope is a much more encyclopedic form. I've introduced a number of citations, and focused on the history of the different terms in different languages. Hopefully this is an improvement; I hope other editors will pick up what I've started here.--Cúchullain t/c 00:37, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for an excellent rewrite. This should relieve the American (word) article of some of its controversy. However, when I read the title, I expected to find an article about the names of all the residents of the Americas! This seems to the only point which can be considered contoversial. I am not about to edit it, (at this time, anyway) but ask you to give this point some consideration. A couple of suggestions: First, retitle it, "Names of the Americans (citizens/residents of the United States)". Or, second, add a subtitle, "in reference to citizens/residents of the United States". This would make the usage of word "American" in this article apparent, but preserve the use of the word "American" in the title. Thanks, Prof.rick (talk) 22:45, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, that's always going to be an issue, and is addressed right in the lead. However, Wikipedia naming conventions use common names of persons and things, and as the article establishes, the only thing US Americans are commonly called in the English language is "Americans".--Cúchullain t/c 01:02, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Recent edits[edit]

The fact that there is confusion between the two meanings of the term "American" (ie pan-American vs US-American) is important to the subject of the article. I don't understand what is difficult about that? Additionally, the recent edit made several other changes that were not necessary (the formatting of the reference sections; changing the "yankee" line). The fact that using "American" to refer to US citizens has caused confusion and resentment is clearly important to the topic at hand.--Cúchullain t/c 10:05, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

At any rate I've added another cite for the first challenged sentence, from Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage]. It discusses the matter much more directly than the OED, so hopefully this will settle it.--Cúchullain t/c 10:27, 28 November 2008 (UTC)


Ive noticed some of the more relevant information has been deleted by recent edits. If we keep the name of the article as 'Names For Americans', than currently used words like 'seppo' should be included, the archaic words from 200 years ago are less important in my opinion.Barrel-rider (talk) 20:20, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

The archaic words are (a) attributed to a reliable source (b) of historical importance as they represented serious attempts to change what US citizens are called, and (c) given the historical context in which they are important. "Seppo" and most of the others on the list were much more recent nicknames, not attempts to rename a citizenry. Additionally, I don't recall any of them being sourced, and they were just put in a bulleted list, which doesn't establish why they were important to include. I agree that the more prominent nicknames should be included, and I left in the two most important ones I know of; "gringo" and "yankee", and explained why they were significant using reliable sources. If you have any more, please add them in, but make sure you cite your sources and give context.--Cúchullain t/c 21:24, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Names for US Citizens[edit]

Isn't it better to change the article to "Names for U.S. Citizens" since "Names for Americans" sounds rather silly and biased? I mean, the article istself is about about the usage of terms other than Americans. Also, aren't there many other articles that discuss this issue? - (talk) 02:05, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

The manual of style dictates that we use the English language title most recognisable to English speakers. So "Names for Americans" is correct. WilyD 02:49, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
By that argument, that common usage trumps accuracy, we should move United Kingdom to "England", because that is what the majority of English speakers call it. When you fill in the customs form upon entering the US, it doesn't ask if you are an "American", it asks if you are a "U.S. citizen". That's precisely the issue here. kwami (talk) 01:26, 20 April 2009 (UTC)
I happen to have my passport at hand and notice it lists my "Nationality" as "United States of America". However, in case of emergency it instructs me to contact the nearest American embassy. Presumably they don't expect me to contact an Argentintian embassy if it happens to be closer than a United States embassy. CAVincent (talk) 01:46, 20 April 2009 (UTC)
Clever. Made me smile. GeorgeLouis (talk) 16:39, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

American in Portuguese[edit]

The cognate for American, americano/a, is quite frequently used to mean someone/thing of the US in Portuguese, and not just in colloquial uses. In fact, you can see it in BBC Brasil here(Buy American is translated as compre produtos americanos) and in A Folha, one of Brazil's biggest papers, here (Senador americano processa Deus - American Senator sues God). While americano/a for of the US is less common in Portuguese than in say, French or Italian, it is still relatively common, much more so than in Spanish, and doesn't merit being put in the same generalized sentence saying that it "chiefly use terms derived from Estados Unidos, the cognate of "United States", as this is patently false. caz | speak 22:34, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

I just want to agree with Cazador: here on Brazil we use "americanos" or "norte americanos" from "North America", it's really wrong saying that we speak "estadunidenses", I mean, just left wings use this term (and the portuguese wikipédia is full of them). (talk) 00:11, 10 April 2010 (UTC)


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, gringo is "a contemptuous name for an Englishman or an Anglo-American." Since this term signifies race, not citizenship, I propose the reference in this article be removed. After all, not all Americans are "Anglo-Americans," and so it isn't another name for a U.S. citizen.  EJNOGARB  01:41, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

Except that the term is frequently used for US citizens. The various uses of the term are discussed at gringo. The article would have a serious omission if it didn't discuss this word.--Cúchullain t/c 03:33, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
If you can provide a reliable source that says the term is frequently used for Americans, than I would agree to keeping it. Since the reference attached to this sentence only specifies Englishman and Anglo-Americans, I'm attaching a fact tag to it being used universally for Americans.  EJNOGARB  04:08, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
This is well-travelled terrain. The gringo article has multiple citations. Your phrase "used universally for Americans" is unclear, but I am guessing you are asking for a citation that a possible use of the word gringo is in application to Americans regardless of ethnicity. Here are several [1] that make no referrence to ethnicity. There are multiple meanings, one of which is Americans generally. I expect the OED referrence you object to is actually in the article to support the date for written English usage. CAVincent (talk) 05:55, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
I was able to find an article in which Asian-Americans are called gringos as well. However, since Americans don't call themselves gringos, I propose the sentence be moved to "International use."  EJNOGARB  14:39, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
Why don't you include that reference you have found? At any rate I am sure that when the OED says Anglo-American, they mean English-speaking American, regardless of ethnicity - black Americans are called Gringo all the time, as would be Irish Americans, etc. CAVincent is correct in his reading of the sentence, the OED entry is being used to show that gringo is used in English and has been for a long time. You are incorrect that Americans don't use the term to refer to themselves, as demonstrated by that same OED article (why else would it appear in the dictionary?). And regardless, the best place for the word is the section for "alternate names" rather than international use, since it is an alternate, rather than primary, term in any language.--Cúchullain t/c 20:44, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
Unsourced original research, but my experience is that it is a racial word denoting non-Hispanic/Latino/Chicano/whathaveyou Americans. -LlywelynII (talk) 00:18, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Article Name[edit]

Someone moved this to "Names for U.S. Americans", which I reverted. I agree the title "Names for Americans" is not ideal, as it assumes that U.S. citizen/national = American. However, "U.S. American" is simply unacceptable as part of the article name, as the term is, frankly, bizarre. No anglophone would routinely use such a phrase. CAVincent (talk) 19:38, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

It's just a disambiguating title. It doesn't have to be an existing phrase. By your argument, "tone (linguistics)" is an inappropriate title, because the normal English expression is just "tone". "U.S." here is just modifying "Americans"; it's not a claim that "U.S. Americans" is the normal expression.
I moved the article back, because it is not about "names for Americans", but specifically excludes the majority of Americans. The word "Americans" has two meanings in English, just as "America" does, so if we're going to use it for only one, we need some way to disambiguate. Perhaps you can come up with a more elegant solution? The problem, just as with a lot of other dab'd titles, is that there is no routinely used phrase that is adequate. kwami (talk) 20:51, 19 April 2009 (UTC)
Hey, here's a book title that uses it: Transcultural women of late twentieth-century U.S. American literature (Pauline T. Newton, 2005). There the disambiguation is needed because some of the immigrant writers are from elsewhere in America, such as the Caribbean. ("first-generation migrant US American writers", "longer exposure to US American society might allow them to mingle with US American culture", "their relationships with other US American women", "their US American-born status", contrasting "US American society" with "Puerto Rican culture", "once she visits the Dominican Republic she sounds too US American", "a US American college", "US American soldiers and journalists", "cannot dismiss US American ideas", "a product of US American television", "native-born US American", "migrant writers must educate the US American people", etc.)
Wiktionary has an entry for "US Americans" with a quote from a Miss Teen USA pageant contestant.
Anyway, the old title "Names for Americans" is improper because it is factually wrong (it is not about names for Americans) and because it violates the neutrality clause of Wikipedia naming conventions. "Names for U.S. Americans" is not great, because it's not common wording, but this is a problem with all articles that require dabbing. kwami (talk) 21:05, 19 April 2009 (UTC)
Look, as you can tell from above comments, the name of this article is a matter of contention. I would support something like "Alternative names for U.S. citizens" for exactly the reason that American has different meanings. Or, following your example of article names that need disambiguation, "Names for Americans (U.S. citizens)". However, the way to deal with this is to discuss and build consensus for an alternative, not to simply make a change that is obviously contentious. Further, the Miss Teen USA deal was notable because the phrase "U.S. American" is so very, very weird, the sort of thing a not-so-bright teenager in a beauty contest might say. Sure, you can find usages of the phrase but it is deeply wrong to move this article to it. Please restore and participate in discussion for an alternative. CAVincent (talk) 22:44, 19 April 2009 (UTC)
No, there is nothing "wrong" with it. It is simply a disambiguated term. You're demanding that we use a factually incorrect and non-neutral term, which violates the MOS, because you don't like the fluidity of the title, which is a secondary consideration. That's like insisting on leaving the article on the UK at "England" while we debate whether "United Kingdom" or "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" is the better title. Since "Names for Americans" is incorrect and in some circles even offensive—especially in light of this article discussing precisely this issue!,—while "Names for U.S. Americans" is correct if not mellifluous, the later needs to be our starting point. The irony of calling this "Names for Americans" should be obvious. "Names for Americans (U.S. citizens)" is okay by me, as is "Alternative names for U.S. citizens", though we were once at the latter and it was not popular. kwami (talk) 01:10, 20 April 2009 (UTC)
Another, shorter possibility would be Names for U.S. citizens. kwami (talk) 01:19, 20 April 2009 (UTC)
Yes, the irony of titling this article "Names for Americans" is clear, and I would be highly sympathetic to the claim that it is a NPOV problem because it assumes a definition that is under contention. However, 1) there is nothing factually incorrect about "Names for Americans", as it is an article about the naming of U.S. citizens/nationals and a legitimate and indeed by far the most common English term for such people is American. 2) In contrast, "Names for U.S. Americans" is not an accepted English phrasing. I do not believe you will find a single English language dictionary that supports (or even alludes to the existence of) the phrase "U.S. American". Sure it disambiguates, but only in the manner of trying to describe a concept in a language one speaks imperfectly by stringing words together in a grammatically ideosyncratic manner. One could as easily move Motorcycle to Vroom vroom bike. In English (and unlike, say, German) the word American is not modified by sticking U.S. in front. CAVincent (talk) 03:16, 20 April 2009 (UTC)

Is there any support, or more importantly any strong opposition, to moving this article to Names for Americans (U.S. citizens)? I believe this would be the normal disambiguating manner to title the article, and would seem to resolve the issues at hand.CAVincent (talk) 03:16, 20 April 2009 (UTC)

Well, I moved the page here from Alternative adjectives for U.S. citizens to Names of the Americans to be in line with the various articles we have titled Names of the Greeks, Names of the Celts, Names of the Romani people, etc. I did this because of an ongoing issue at the article now titled American (word). The problem that kept coming up there, and that comes up frequently in real life, is that whether we like it or not, there's just no alternate name for citizens of the United States in English. So I decided to be bold and split that article in two; one that would discuss the word American itself and its history and different uses, and one that would discuss what different languages call United Staters. I struggled even at that time with the clunky title, but we are hamstrung by two points (1) that the word "American" has another (admittedly much less common) use in English, and (2) there is no other common name for Americans in English. I really object to using "U.S. citizens" here, because that defines them by citizenship rather than nationality (on top of American Samoans, there are more nuanced examples, such as T.S. Eliot appears in collections of American literature despite giving up his citizenship, and there are plenty of long-term resident aliens who are treated as Americans in various ways despite not being citizens). I think "U.S. Americans" is a decent compromise, but just plain old "Americans" certainly isn't an incorrect use of the word, though some people might find it distasteful and perhaps confusing. I'm going to move us back to the status quo Names of the Americans until we can sort out a compromise, it's always a bad idea to move things around when consensus isn't behind it.--Cúchullain t/c 23:36, 20 April 2009 (UTC)
Then we call them "citizens of the United States" or "US citizens", as they do in US gov documents. You yourself say "there's just no alternate name for citizens of the United States in English", using the phrasing of the current title (names for US citizens). You say that it's a bad idea to move things when there's no consensus, but that's precisely what you did. It's okay for you to be bold and move it, but not for others to do so? One of the main points of this article is that the name "American" is technically incorrect, so choosing that name is, to be kind, ironic. There are other viable terms in use, some in official use. The fact that "citizen" doesn't cover 100% of the population doesn't change the fact that these words do apply to US citizens, whereas they do not apply to the majority of technical Americans.
One phrase that might answer your concern would be "names for U.S. nationals" or "names for nationals of the United States", since a national is "a citizen or a subject" and includes American Samoans. (However, there is a question as to whether an American Samoan is an American/Usonian, since American Samoa is its own country; also, "Usonian" may be contrasted with "Puerto Rican".) And TS Eliot did once have US citizenship, which is good enough for a lit collection. We could still argue that Eliot isn't an American, so I don't see how that fixes things there anyway.
Per the OED, "nationals" are:
  • "persons belonging to the same nation; (one's) fellow-countrymen"
  • "all the members of a state, whether covereign, subjects or citizens"
When an "American" says "Americans", they mean their "fellow-country(wo)men", so this is appropriate. Personally, I think "US Americans" is just fine, but absent that, "Americans" is simply perverse. Could you imagine us creating an article on "names for Macedonians" covering solely Macedonian Slavs?
kwami (talk) 01:31, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

Given that the use of simply "American" is perverse considering the topic of the article, which possibilities do people like or dislike? "Names for:

  • US citizens / citizens of the United States
  • US nationals / nationals of the United States
  • US Americans / Americans (United States)
  • (other)
  • Using "U.S." as an adjective is not desireable. While it's used in newspapers to save space and whatnot, it really is something that ought to be eschewed. One could say "Names for citizens of the United States" or "Names for residents of the United States", but those are both legal jargon-y terms that might confuse. "Names for Americans" obviously follows the usual titling convention of using the most common/recognisable English name, one might plead special exception here. "US Americans" is not an English construction, and is likely to be very confusing, I think it has to be a non-starter (my instinct is to either correct the capitalisation, and move it to a title that is more appropriate, since I am not an American, for instance). American nationals is probably also far too jargon-y. "Inhabitants of the United States" might work, though Americans living outside the United States are obviously still Americans. WilyD 14:16, 21 April 2009 (UTC)
At any rate I stand by the assertion that is is bad editing to engage in a move war, or any edit war, when it is obvious such a move is disputed (as in this case). It was okay for me to "be bold" and move the page when I did it originally because there was no article here. I wrote it. Before that it was just a listing of nicknames for American citizens; I removed that and replaced it with real, cited article content. Kwami, I think you're going overboard when you say that using simply "American" is "technically incorrect", "non-neutral" or "perverse". If we're quoting the OED, see their entry for "American": "Originally: a native or inhabitant of America, esp. of the British colonies in North America, of European descent (now hist.). Now chiefly: a native or citizen of the United States." Clearly this isn't a matter of being "wrong" or "perverse"; English is not a prescriptive language. There are obvious defects with using just Americans, but if this discussion has shown anything its that the alternatives are equally problematic. The page should be moved back to the status quo title Names for Americans and we can move from there; the moves are not solving anything.--Cúchullain t/c 15:12, 21 April 2009 (UTC)
(Wily) Of course "US" can be used as an attributive. It is all the time. You may not approve, but it is definitely a starter. Of course, there's nothing wrong with spelling it out either.
(Cuchullain) The perversity is not in calling US nationals "Americans", but doing so in an article which discusses how this can be ambiguous. It is non-neutral in the context of saying that "Americans" can mean inhabitants of all of America, to then go on and use it in the title to mean inhabitants of the US. In other articles, where there is no ambiguity, I wouldn't care less, but it's a bit rich to do it here. While we debate the best name, we shouldn't leave the article at the worst name. kwami (talk) 15:35, 21 April 2009 (UTC)
See WP:WRONG. It's certainly not the worst name, though admittedly it seems to be the one that looks the worst to one particularly squeaky wheel. And it's certainly not non-neutral; all significant views on the topic are presented fairly, proportionately, and without bias. It's the "propotionately" thing that's the kicker; the fact is "American" chiefly means "US American" in English; it's not at all confusing to the great majority of English speakers. Other langues would follow with their own most common word; I expect the Spanish version of this article would be called "Nombres para estadounidenses" but replicate the same content.--Cúchullain t/c 15:57, 21 April 2009 (UTC)
That really is not right. "Canuck" can be attributive, but I wouldn't call an article about the nomenclature of Canadians "Names for Canucks". Obvious nonstarter, despite being "correct" and "clear". WilyD 19:34, 21 April 2009 (UTC)
Your opinion does not make it "obvious" to anyone else, and your example is not even grammatically analogous to "US American". kwami (talk)

I've found "US American" as far back as 1922, and from the American Library Association in 1955, but it seems to have really taken off around the year 2000. As you might expect, it's most common in sociological and intercultural texts, where there is a contrast between US and Latin American. Google books has thousands of texts which use the phrase (6570 hits, of which the majority are accurate). It may not be the title we want, but the argument that it isn't proper English is spurious. kwami (talk) 00:09, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

That sounds about right, but to include it you'll need a reliable secondary source.--Cúchullain t/c 00:30, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
You mean a source that overtly says that "US American" is proper English, or that states that its popularity is increasing? kwami (talk) 00:35, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Either one. As long as any interpretation is left to reliable secondary sources, it's fine. What we can't do is just list off some examples where it's used and use that to draw a conclusion.--Cúchullain t/c 00:45, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Since when is that a criterion? I doubt we could justify half of the titles on Wikipedia by this standard. I mean, we have an article on Roman Greece, but I doubt you'll find a ref stating that is proper English. All you're likely to find are books which use the phrase "Roman Greece" in their text or their titles. Same for Glagolitic alphabet, Punjabi language, Japanese braille, seven-day week, Korean grammar, lunar mare, planetary habitability, Finnic peoples, etc. You have quite a few articles to your credit that would have to be renamed as OR if you applied this consistently. kwami (talk) 01:16, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Since WP:SECONDARY got attached to the NOR policy. You will, in fact, find many articles about Roman Greece, just by looking at your college library or Google Scholar as I just did.--Cúchullain t/c 04:54, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
By your standards, those are not acceptable sources, at least not from what I can see in the links. Nowhere do they state that "Roman Greece" is correct English. They merely use the phrase as if it were correct English. Ergo, the title of Roman Greece is OR and must be moved to something we can substantiate with an actual reference. (And yes, I realize that argument is moronic. That's the point.) kwami (talk) 07:15, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
They're not my standards, they are policy. I admit I didn't look at the links I gave very closely, I realize now they don't serve my argument. I'm sure such sources do exist, however; at any rate that particular name is unlikely to be challenged since it is essentially a compound of two parts (the Roman period of Greece), but it could be something to bring up at names of the Greeks if you really feel strongly about it. However, we're not discussing that article, we're discussing the one on names of the (U.S.) Americans. If you think "U.S. American" is correct English and want it used in the title as well as within the article text, demonstrate that it is.--Cúchullain t/c 12:49, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Of course they're your standards. I've never heard anyone else say that "no OR" means we have to choose article names from a dictionary, an essentially impossible task since most phrases are not listed in dictionaries. "it is essentially a compound of two parts (the Roman period of Greece)"—well, so is "US American" a compound of two parts. I'm curious as to why this particular expression has been singled out for proof.
I removed "US citizen" as unsupported by the ref. It's also not in my dictionary, which means it's OR and we can't use it in the article. Per Google, it has 3 Mhits per "US American"'s 1 Mhits, suggesting it isn't all that much more common, and so the OR claim may also be non-NPOV. kwami (talk) 18:26, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Various policies speak to the sourcing issue. What you're proposing is to take primary sources (examples where "US American" is used), and synthesize an argument (that "US American" is correct and used frequently in the English language). Rather, when you made these edits you didn't include any sources at all. This is Original research. Our naming policy specifies that "article naming should prefer what the greatest number of English speakers would most easily recognize", even if this necessitates a "reasonable minimum of ambiguity". The only thing U.S. citizens are really called in English is "Americans". You seem to believe "US American" is proper English and a regularly used alternative, but the burden of evidence is on you to show that it is, not on us to show that it's not. I have no idea what you mean by "the OR claim may also be non-NPOV."--Cúchullain t/c 19:22, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
It is OR to claim that "US citizen" is a common alternative, but "US American" is not. Also, your claim that speakers would not easily recognize "US citizens" or "US Americans" is OR. kwami (talk) 20:23, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
I don't recall making either of those claims, and I don't see how they are OR anway. I think you're grasping at straws now. Look, Kwami, let's take a break for a while. This discussion hasn't been productive for some time. I respect you as an editor and I know we're all trying to improve the encyclopedia. I think we'll be able to resolve this much easier after a breather, once our heads clear a bit.--Cúchullain t/c 22:48, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Dictionaries aren't generally going to list noun phrases as entries, but I found one that uses "US American" in one of its definitions. A Dictionary of European Anglicisms by Manfred Görlach (2005), in the usage notes for the entry on "Yankee", states, "European languages have adopted the British use (late eighteenth century) referring to an US American (not specifically a northerner)." kwami (talk) 13:59, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

This Görlach fellow is German, and uses the incorrect article ("an" rather than "a"). Looks more like faulty translation than endorsement of "US American". Incidentally, the claims above about Google getting a million hits for "US American"... this is silly. Aside from mocking a certain beauty pageant contestant, 90% or more of these are obviously not using the phrase "U.S. American" but are just using the word "us" followed by the word "American". The citation you recently added to the article suffers from a similar defect. CAVincent (talk) 22:38, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Plenty of English speakers write the article wrongly as an before words beginning with vowels; your conclusion that the ref is not pertinent because of this is OR. kwami (talk) 07:26, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Uh, if you actually looked at the ref, which is at Google Books, you'd see that 0% talk about the beauty pageant, and that while there are cases of "us American" or "US, American", these are in the minority, at least through the first hundred hits. kwami (talk) 01:15, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Hence, "similar defect" and not "same defect". I counted 64 usages of "U.S. American" or "US American" in the first hundred hits on Google Books; looks like the percentages of accurate hits starts to drop off the farther one goes in the list. I didn't say it was silly to assert that "U.S. American" does exist in published books, just to suggest that the phrase was so common as to generate a million hits on plain vanilla Google. CAVincent (talk) 02:04, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
I wasn't using that as a ref, only as a comparison with "US citizen", which suffers from the same defects in a search. My point was that the ratio of hits of US citizen to US American was 3:1. kwami (talk) 02:52, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Since you won't accept that the usage is "occasional", I took out that word. But "US Americans" is a phrase that's used, so that stays. kwami (talk) 03:40, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

RfC: Title and phrase "US American"[edit]

Summary by kwami (talk): The article concerns alternate names for US Americans, such as norteamericano or estadounidense in Spanish, and more obscure words like Usonian in English, that don't have the ambiguity of "American", since technically Canadians and Peruvians are also Americans. There are two issues. First, the article was moved to "Names for Americans", with the reasoning that "Americans" is the most common term for these people in English and therefore per the MOS it must be the name of the article. I and others have objected that this is deeply ironic, and that the title of the article needs to be clear that it is not concerned with names for all Americans, but only for US Americans. I moved it to "Names for US citizens" for what I consider necessary clarity, though there are plenty of other phrasings that I'd be happy with. The second issue is including the phrase "US Americans" in the text. A search in Google Books returns plenty of books that use this phrase, as far back as 1920 but especially after 1990. (I've collected some citations here.) As a noun/adjectival phrase, "US American" is not found in dictionaries. The objection is that we cannot include it in the article, despite its attestations, because books using a term are not a RS that the term is used; that we need source that specifically states that the term is used. By this argument, the article Roman Greece wouldn't be able to use the phrase "Roman Greece", since you can't find that in a dictionary either. 07:23, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

  • Comment As for inclusion of "US American/U.S. American", I see no problem with it. It's not common, but neither are any of these terms; the article isn't "Common names for U.S. citizens". Kwami has accumulated enough sources to verify that it's really out there, regardless of whether any of us have heard it in everyday speech. As for naming...yes, "Names for Americans" is not very appropriate because, as kwami points out, "America" can be the entire Western hemisphere, even though that's not how it's commonly used anymore (and it's not really our fault that the whole USA appropriated the term for itself). "Names for U.S. citizens" is a perfectly reasonable alternative, and I see no reason to fall back on a problematic naming when this one exists. rʨanaɢ talk/contribs 11:18, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

We were being called Americans by others before we started calling ourselves American. We didn't appropriate or steal the name from anyone. For that matter there wasn't anyone to steal it from. The name was given to us. All we did was accept it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:27, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

The objection to 'citizens' is that not all US Americans are necessarily citizens. Personally, I think it's close enough, but a more accurate term would be nice. kwami (talk) 11:34, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, I considered that as well, but then I figured, non-citizens who reside here are generally not referred to as "Americans" anyway, at least not in my experience. (Of course, that is probably a sticky controversial issue; I'm thinking mainly people who are here on a short-term basis and don't self-identify as American, but I'm sure an argument can also be made about people who live here their entire lives but are denied citizenship). rʨanaɢ talk/contribs 11:39, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
"U.S. citizens" is less offensive than "U.S. American" for the title (I would prefer "U.S. national"). The fact is, there's no good thing to call this, since there's no good thing to call Americans besides Americans. I deliniated why I object to "U.S. citizens" above: basically, because it classifies United Staters by citizenship rather than nationality (there is a nuanced, but important difference which plays out for all American Samoans, for example.) As for "U.S. American", it can't be included as of yet, because in fact neither Kwami nor anyone else has included any sources for it at all. All Kwami's done so far is give us Google Books search, which is not a reliable source, hinted at his own research and opinions on this talk page, and made a proclamation that "'US Americans' is a phrase that's used, so that stays." None of these things are acceptible. If he wants it included he's going to have to follow policy and find a reliable, secondary source that discusses the phrase directly. This could be a dictionary, a manual of style, a book on English usage, whatever. If it's really as common as he says, it will appear somewhere, he just needs to do the actual work of tracking that down. The burden of evidence is on him to defend the challenged material, not on the rest of us to prove it isn't used.--Cúchullain t/c 14:30, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

As to sources for "U.S. American":

"Yankee n. 1 an inhabitant of the USA; an American ¶ European languages have adopted the British use (late eighteenth century) referring to an US American (not specifically a northerner)" (A Dictionary of European Anglicisms, p. 350). Although this is an explanation at "Yankee", it uses the term "US American" in its definition.

Görlach, Manfred (2005) A Dictionary of European Anglicisms. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

"U.S. American Ambassador, American Consulate Gen. - 17A, Alexandria, Egypt. ¶ U.S. American Ambassador, American Embassy - 17, Cairo, Egypt." (ALA Membership Directory, p. 304) This is a list, not prose. Still, it defines the representatives of the United States of America as "U.S. American Ambassador(s)."

American Library Association (1955) ALA Membership Directory. Chicago: American Library Association.

As to titling the page: U.S. nationals would seem preferable to U.S. citizens, in my opinion. The term "nationals" is used variously to refer to citizens, residents, and those claiming sociocultural nationality. Cnilep (talk) 16:13, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

Thank you for those examples. I am still against using passing examples such as these in an encyclopedia article. Reliable sources guideline has this to say: "Sources should directly support the information as it is presented in an article and should be appropriate to the claims made". These instances of the phrase being used do not directly support the argument that this is a commonly-used phrase in the English language. They could be used as primary sources (ie, examples where the phrase is used in context), but WP:NOR specifically prohibits drawing conclusions based on primary sources. As such, we have to rely on dictionaries, style manuals, books on English usage, and other secondary sources in order to make claims such as this. As the article currently stands, primary sources are used only to make descriptive claims (The Federalist 24 says x; George Washington said y), while all interpretive claims are left to the OED, The Columbia Guide to Standard American English, M-W's Dictionary of English Usage, et al.--Cúchullain t/c 17:42, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
But Cúchullain, you violate this all the time. According to your user page, you've worked on articles with titles that violate this strict interpretation of OR. I doubt you can find Lancelot-Grail or Valladolid debate in a dictionary or style guide, for example. Or Leading chief of the Seminoles—you are presenting this as a noun phrase, and if I were to object that it is OR to create such a phrase, because I've certainly never heard it before, I doubt you could defend it to the extent you demand for "US American".
But we do have two votes now for "Names for US nationals" over "US citizens". (Shouldn't it be "words for"?) kwami (talk) 22:58, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Kwami, that is nonsense. The titles "Lancelot-Grail" and "Valladolid debate" can be found in many secondary sources typed out exactly like that ("Leading chief of the Seminoles" is a bit different, I'll admit, but if you or anyone has a better title for that list I'd gladly consent to a change). Those are articles about things, the titles are taken from secondary sources which refer to them with a conventional name. Sources for that will be sources discussing the thing. This article is about the names that are conventionally attached to a thing, the people of the United States. As such we rely on a different set of sources to back up the article. The thing is, I've checked all the usage guides, style manuals, and dictionaries I listed above, and none of them give "U.S. American" as an accepted and common phrase for people from the United States (and some of them mention all manner of alternative names, including very obscure ones; you'd think they'd have thought of this one if it was really used with frequency.)--Cúchullain t/c 01:21, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
So, it would be okay to have an article titled US Americans, as long as it didn't discuss the name?
The reason the lists of obscure words for US Americans don't include "US American" is that they're lists of words, and "US American" isn't a word, but a phrase. There are plenty of other phrases they don't include. For example, while they may mention "US citizen" as a common phrasing, they don't mention "US national", despite the fact that the latter is the legal status of American Samoans. "US Americans" is clearly more prevalent than something like "Fredonian". We evidently haven't found a source, assuming there is one, that lists all phrases as well as all words for this distinction. Which is not unreasonable, considering that phrases are an open category, seldom bothered with in dictionaries when they are self-explanatory, and it would be very difficult to list every one ever used. kwami (talk) 02:13, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
No, it would not, since that is not the common name for Americans. Lancelot-Grail is the common name for the Lancelot-Grail, on the other hand, as attested in various reliable secondary sources including the ones listed in the article. Many articles on things discuss the name additionally if there is reason to, this is a rare case where the name itself deserves its own article. Anyway, regardless of how this plays out in other articles, or whether you think policy is too strict, WP:V says that "[a]ll quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation." Your inclusion of the phrase "US American" has been challenged, you will do better to find sources than to continue arguing that your statement is true, even if it's not verified.--Cúchullain t/c 02:43, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
"Any interpretation of primary source material requires a reliable secondary source for that interpretation. Without a secondary source, a primary source may be used only to make descriptive claims, the accuracy of which is verifiable by a reasonable, educated person without specialist knowledge." I agree that if I were to make claims about frequency, popularity, or differences in meaning of phrases, I would need secondary sources. However, a claim that the phrase exists only requires demonstration that it exists, including primary sources, which I have done. Others have agreed. (I haven't said policy is too strict. I said your interpretation of it is too narrow.) kwami (talk) 05:17, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

My vote is for "Names for Americans (United States)" Readin (talk) 23:15, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

Okay, since hopefully the issue of the phrase is settled (or if it's not, we're just talking past each other), can we get back to the name of the article? Who agrees with Readin? US nationals? US citizens? citizens/nationals of the United States? Names for? Words for? kwami (talk) 14:22, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

The article covers several kinds of "Americans" such as citizens, nationals and "people from the United States". It may at some point make sense to expand it to refer to ethnic Americans (including people who are descended from Americans or raised by Americans but who are not U.S. nationals, for example Winston Churchill who might be termed an "American English" because his mother was American). By using the slightly open-ended term "American" we can cover the topics of interest for people who come to this page. By including "(United States)" we disambiguate from the less common use of the term "American" that refers to people from the Americas. Readin (talk) 17:19, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
I suppose the issue of the phrase is settled so long as it is not added back into the article without proper sources. As for the title, Readin's rationale is somewhat convincing, but I think it is unnecessarily complicated. This version is perhaps better than "Names for U.S. citizens" (and far better than "Names for U.S. Americans". The best title in my mind is still just "Names for Americans".--Cúchullain t/c 19:28, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
Cuchullain has chosen to define "Americans" as "citizens of the US" in the lede to this section, so American Samoans are by our definition not Americans, and the current title is appropriate. BTW, I'm restoring "U.S. Americans", which Cuchullain deleted against RS's and contrary opinion here. kwami (talk) 21:54, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
Kwami, now you're just being disruptive. You know that material is challenged, and that discussion attempting to establish consensus is ongoing, but you re-added it citing only to a non-existent Wiktionary page for a Wiktionary entry you yourself created. This is highly unconstructive. I don't know why you are being so difficult, but it is growing very tiresome. I ask you again to please stop this behavior or else further dispute resolution may be required.--Cúchullain t/c 22:37, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
And I find your edits disruptive. You asked for sources, I gave you sources. Of course I compiled the list! If you would prefer that I combine them into a footnote for this article, fine; that changes nothing. Now if you wish to continue your idiosyncratic interpretation of sourcing requirements, I suggest you find something to back you up. Personal interpretations of policy are as much OR as anything else. kwami (talk) 02:43, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
Citing your own wiktionary page is a definite no-no. Readin (talk) 23:01, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
That's simply a place to compile the references. I'm not quoting myself, so I don't see how it matters whether the refs are here or there. But I can paste them into a footnote here if you prefer.
What you are saying is that you did your own research, which consisted of synthesizing an argument out of primary sources, and published it yourself at a website anyone can edit. Look, I'm tired of being bludgeoned by your persistence. If you want "US American" here so bad despite the lack of any secondary sources, I'm not going to fight it anymore. But Wiktionary is not a reliable source for anything, I shouldn't have to tell you that. You will at least need to give the full citations here (page numbers, publication information, inline citations). [refactored]--Cúchullain t/c 12:38, 29 April 2009 (UTC)--Cúchullain t/c 14:31, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
The lede I see for the article says "Different languages use different terms for citizens and nationals of the United States, the people...". That contains more than just citizens. And regardless of what the lede says, the rest of the article clearly covers more territory. Finally, even if this article does cover just U.S. citizens at the moment, there is an equal need for an article that covers other names (such as U.S. nationals, and ethnic Americans). To place such information in a separate article would be an unnecessary and confusing split. Simply saying "American" qualified with "(United States)" is specific enough to tell the user where they are, common enough that users will intuitively recognize the meaning, and broad enough to void artificial restrictions on the article. Readin (talk) 22:10, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
I'm not disagreeing with you. I'm just saying that if we go with Cúchullain's personal interpretation of sourcing policy, all that has to be deleted, because according to his source "American" means only a citizen of the US. (I obviously don't agree with his interpretation.) kwami (talk) 02:43, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
You are grasping at straws. I'm not rising to it.--Cúchullain t/c 12:46, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
Don't be an idiot. You can't ask for refs, delete those refs, and then complain that there aren't any refs. I had assumed you were editing in good faith, but it seems you intend to disrupt anything you disagree with. I will restore the references I added at your request. Removing references is vandalism. kwami (talk) 13:22, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
You're also using a style guide, and a cute little essay at that, as a source for official government terminology. If American nationals are also Americans, which was one of the criticisms of the current title of the article, then it is not true that 'American' and 'citizen' are the only official terms. (See 'grasping at straws' above.) You can't have it both ways. kwami (talk) 13:28, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
An idiot, eh? It is clear you are beyond the point of discussing this reasonably.--Cúchullain t/c 13:45, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
Okay, if you insist on deleting the references, I don't want to hear anything more from you about requiring references. However, you need some yourself: you can't say 'US American' is "occasionally" used, since that is your personal interpretation of primary sources. All we can say based on the sources you deleted is that it is used. (Granted, I had said it was "occasionally" used myself, but that want before you corrected me on sourcing reqs.) kwami (talk) 13:51, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
Note: Cúchullain had actually commented out the refs, because one of them was not readily verifiable. He did not delete them. kwami (talk) 13:23, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
What I am seeing is a strong case for no WP article on the subject. This seems more like a Wiktionary subject to me. See wikt:WT:RFD#US American. ;-)) But seriously folks, this article might be good for a Transwiki, perhaps a version that had no claimed term excluded. It would probably make a good appendix for Wiktionary. DCDuring (talk) 16:49, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

try again[edit]

Okay, let's try again. (I should learn to just link to policy and shut up)

We are currently at Names for U.S. citizens
Cnilep prefered Names for U.S. nationals
CAVincent suggested Names for Americans (U.S. citizens)
Readin wanted Names for Americans (United States)

Is any one of these preferable to the others? kwami (talk) 14:40, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

As an univolved editor, I would say that "Americans" is the most commonly used term for Americans. So that eliminates the first two suggestions. "Americans (U.S. citizens)" would probably be the best name if it didn't introduce the issue of citizenship. Either "Names for Americans (U.S. citizens)" or "Names for Americans (United States)" would probably work. Good luck! A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 15:49, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
  • I'm sorry if this has been mentioned above; I did read the whole thing, but my eyes glazed over once or twice and I might have missed it. Anyway, wouldn't a reasonable compromise be to make the title slightly longer? How about Names for people from the United States? The problem with "Americans" goes away. The problem with "Citizens" goes away. The problem with "U.S. Americans" goes away. No parentheses needed. Then you can redirect from all the others to your heart's content. --Floquenbeam (talk) 16:04, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

I would agree with the Names for people from the United States as well. -Djsasso (talk) 16:36, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

One minor problem there is that the same adjective(?) is used to describe e.g. American business, the American financial crisis, American military power... Franamax (talk) 19:03, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
True. But that's a weakness shared by all of the proposed titles so far (even "Names for Americans", really). I'm guessing Names for people, bulldogs, companies, and other entities associated in various nebulous ways with the United States would not achieve consensus. I'm inclined to say that this particular sub issue is, as you say, minor, and suggest that we not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Still, I've taken back my congratulatory self-pat on the back, and removed the "This user solves problems more elegantly than Solomon" userbox from my page. --Floquenbeam (talk) 21:04, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
I was kicking around plain old American (United States). It captures the essence, which is the contrast between American being "from the USofA" and American being "from the Americas". (Being Canadian, I've startled more than one European with my response to comments they preface with "You Americans..." :) And you left out "Truth, justice and the American way" - unless Superman is included, I won't support your long title. :) Franamax (talk) 22:44, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
"Names for people from the United States" - What about naturalized Americans who are not "from" the United States. "Names for people of the United States" would be better. But I still like "Names for Americans (United States)" It's less wordy and more direct. Readin (talk) 22:47, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
Well, I guess my operating theory (based on similar conversations I've seen above, elsewhere on-wiki, and in real life) is that none of the names with "Americans" "U.S. Americans", "Citizens", or parentheses in them will ever achieve widespread consensus; I'm proposing a compromise that I thought perhaps everyone could live with and then move on with our lives. As far as the naturalized Americans who are not "from" the United States issue is concerned, this again (to me) is minor. Every possible name is going to have imperfections; the question is, what is clearest, simplest, and least controversial. I think "people from the United States" sacrifices a little bit of conciseness (concision?) and high-end precision (Franamax and Readin's problems) in order to gain significant clarity, simplicity, and (I thought, but perhaps I'm mistaken) lack of controversy.
Anyway, I guess an interesting Meta-question is: when choosing among more than half a dozen options, each with entrenched supporters and opposers, how do you ever gain a discussion-based consensus?
  1. One way is to agree to compromise on an innocuous middle ground.
  2. I suppose another would be to knock off the least popular ones one by one, and then try to gain consensus about which of the remaining two.
  3. Or use some kind of Evil Preferential Voting Scheme where second and third options are incorporated. First, of course, you'd have to have the obligatory "Which voting scheme shall we use" argument...
  4. Let the discussion extend for several months, and whoever is the last one to still care wins.
To me, option #1 seems like the least likely to turn into a timesink. --Floquenbeam (talk) 23:29, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
Anyway, I guess an interesting Meta-question is: when choosing among more than half a dozen options, each with entrenched supporters and opposers, how do you ever gain a discussion-based consensus? If everyone would agree with me we wouldn't have this problem. Readin (talk) 00:31, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
I knew I forgot to say something earlier. While I think "People from the United States" sounds slightly less stilted than "people of the United States", I think both work fine as a middle ground. --Floquenbeam (talk) 00:50, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Some people above have objected to abbreviations and attributive nouns (though I fail to understand the reasoning for the latter), and if we combine that with 'of' as more accurate than 'from', we're left with Names for Americans (United States) and Names for people of the United States. I must say that the latter seems to read better, but it has the defect of not including the word 'American'. Not that some of the others wouldn't be acceptable to me too.

We could also have something like Words for American specific to the United States, which would not restrict us to people. kwami (talk) 01:19, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

That is an interesting comment: What about expressions like "American economy"? Maybe we should have "Adjective referring to United States"?
In order to simplify the discussion on whether the article is about US citizens, or people from US, or anything from the US, I propose to use "Demonym of the United States". Though the etymology of "demonym" refers to people, the demonym is in general the adjective used to refer to anything related to a nation, not only persons. In my opinion, the word "demonym" also has the advantage of being slightly dry, uncharged with the passions unleashed by words like "citizen", "people from", "people living in", etc. Ratfox (talk) 19:28, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
The article is about what to call people from/of the United States, it's not about the adjective. The word itself is discussed at American (word). "Demonym" is an interesting idea, Ratfox. I think we ought to take a look at the series of related articles, namely Names of the Greeks, Names of the Celts, Names of the Romani people, etc. The fact that we have that series of articles is what inspired me to put this one together, so that would be a good place to see what has been done before (though of course we don't want to let convention hamstring us).--Cúchullain t/c 12:57, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

Names for U.S. citizens[edit]

Names for U.S. citizens is perfectly clear as an article title. A naturalized citizen living abroad for 35 years is still an American. An immigrant to the United States who has not been naturalized is not an American, even though he or she might be a legal resident. A baby born to an American citizen living in Botswana is an American, because he or she is a U.S. citizen. One who gives up his citizenship, like Garry Davis, is a "former American," or as he liked to say, a "world citizen." Yours, GeorgeLouis (talk) 00:28, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Oxford English Dictionary[edit]

I certainly don't mind an editor using the OED as a source, but I question whether the OED would back up statements like 'Eventually, this usage spread through other English-speaking countries; the noun "American" now chiefly refers to natives or citizens of the United States in all forms of the English language' and 'thus its use as a demonym for the United States derives by extension.' These statements seem to go beyond a dictionary definition and move into the realm of interpretation. It would be nice if the OED definition could actually be quoted, in its entirety, somewhere in the article, maybe in a footnote. That would end all caviling. Yours sincerely, GeorgeLouis (talk) 17:50, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

Sorry, there was apparently an edit conflict. The OED does give the history of the word, through its various uses over time from its earliest appearences. We don't need to give the whole entry that appears on the site, it is very, very long. For those who can't log into the site to verify the material from home, they can look in the print edition or access the online version from a library or university. As to those specific qualms, they are paraphrased from the OED entry: "2. a. Originally: a native or inhabitant of America, esp. of the British colonies in North America, of European descent (now hist.). Now chiefly: a native or citizen of the United States. Cf. also LATIN AMERICAN n., NORTH AMERICAN n., SOUTH AMERICAN n., etc."--Cúchullain t/c 18:08, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
Yes, a ref is a ref, regardless of whether any one editor can readily verify it. Here are the defs (with parenthetical material removed):
  1. a. Belonging to the continent of America. Also, pertaining to its inhabitants. b. American language: (i) a language of American Indians; (ii) American English.
  2. a. Belonging to the British colonies in North America (obsolete). b. Belonging to the United States.
  1. An American Indian.
  2. A native of America of European descent; especially a citizen of the United States. Now simply a native or inhabitant of North or South America (often with qualifying words, such as Latin American, North American); a citizen of the United States.
kwami (talk) 18:36, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

Thanks to both Kwami and Cuchullain. This OED definition is so succinct that I wonder if it should not be used in the body of the article itself or in a footnote. Sincerely, GeorgeLouis (talk) 18:44, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

The online version says this:
1. An indigenous inhabitant of (any part of) the Americas; an American Indian. Now only with modifying word, as indigenous American, original American, etc.
2a. Originally: a native or inhabitant of America, esp. of the British colonies in North America, of European descent (now hist.). Now chiefly: a native or citizen of the United States.
2b. As the second element of compounds forming nouns with the sense ‘an American of the specified origin or descent’.
a series of obsolete and uncommon uses is omitted
1a. Of or relating to (any part of) the Americas.
1b. Of, relating to, or designating the indigenous inhabitants of (any part of) the Americas; of, relating to, or designating American Indians. Now chiefly with modifying word, as early, original, indigenous, etc.
further obsolete and uncommon uses omitted
2a. Originally: of, relating to, or characteristic of the European (esp. British) colonies in North America or their inhabitants. Now chiefly: of, relating to, or characteristic of the United States or its inhabitants.
2b. Of, designating, or belonging to the English language as used in the United States (or formerly, in Britain's North American colonies).
2c. As the second element of compounds in the sense ‘American of the specified origin or descent’.
further obsolete and uncommon uses omitted.

--Cúchullain t/c 18:48, 4 May 2009 (UTC)


I've hidden the line about "Usonian" being the "most common" alternative. First, the reference given, to the "Concise Oxford Dictionary", is somewhat unclear, as there are several "Concise Oxford Dictionaries", including several on English usage. The one that is probably intended, the "Concise Oxford English Dictionary", does not seem to say that "Usonian" is the "most common" alternate term for "American", but I will check it again soon. By the way this is the only dictionary I have ever seen which gives "Usonian" as term for Americans rather than the architecture style of Frank Lloyd Wright. The major ones do not have it.--Cúchullain t/c 18:40, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

According to Oxford, that's only because it's updated more frequently. I only know of the citation second hand through an email from the publisher. kwami (talk) 18:46, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
I will check the dictionary at my university's library.--Cúchullain t/c 18:48, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
I took out the phrase "most common", which I don't remember being supported by the citation. kwami (talk) 18:52, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

@Kwamikagami and Cuchullain: Is it verified that Esperanto took the name specifically from Wright's proposal? See Wiktionary, quotation #1:

1905 July, Gaston Moch, “Vortaro pacifisma”, Espero pacifista: monata organo de "Pacifisto", volume 1, number 1, Neuilly-sur-Seine, page 63–64: 
Strange estas, ke ekzistas nenia nomo por la regnanoj de Unuigitaj Ŝtatoj kaj por ilia nacio. [...] De kelkaj jaroj, oni komencas, en Unuigitaj Ŝtatoj, nomi la landon per la nomo Usona, kunmetita per la ĉefliteroj de la vortoj United States of North Amerika [sic] [...] tio, kio koncernas la landon, estas usonian, kaj, simile, la regnano estas nomata Usonian. En Esperanto mi proponas nomi la landon Usono; la responda adjektivo estus usona, kaj la regnano Usonano. [bold in the original]

My translation:

It is strange that there is no name for the residents of United States and for their nation. [...] In the past several years people in United States have started to call their country by the name Usona, which is assembled from the initials of the words United States of North Amerika [sic] [...] what relates to the country is usonian, and similarly the resident is called a Usonian. In Esperanto I propose calling the country Usono; the corresponding adjective would be usona, and the resident an Usonano.

(Modern Esperanto usage does not capitalize derived demonyms, including Usonano.)

Also Usona in Wiktionary:

An acronym of the United States of North America, a 19th-century name for the United States of America
  1. [quotations ▲]
    • 1898, “The Flaming Sword”, vol. 13 no. 33, page 9:  A St. Louis professor endeavors to invent a new name for the United States, a cabalistic affair, Usona, composed of the initial letters of the words United States of North America ; the people he would designate as Usonians.

    • 1919, Charles Alphonso Smith, New Words Self-defined, page 198: “As a matter of fact, the name Usona [...] was first proposed by a Canadian, James P. Murray of Toronto, in 1885.” (quoted from a letter in the New York Times, 20 July, 1918)

I don't have ready access to the OED online any more, and unsurprisingly no form of the word appears in my dead-tree Compact Edition [...] with Supplement or in the newer Compact New Edition, so I can't easily check the date of Cuchúllain's citation. Please {{Ping}} me to discuss. --Thnidu (talk) 02:59, 7 June 2015 (UTC)

@Thnidu: You're right, there's no good reason to thing the Eo word came from Wright. Wright could as easily have taken it from Eo. More likely, both got it from other sources, perhaps not even the same one. I suspect that E-ists attributed it to Wright because after 1925 his was the only common usage of the English word, and people assumed that he must have been the source. There was another story about it coming from Erewhon that was similarly apocryphal.
As for it being the most common, I probably deduced that from it being the only one of these words in the COED. — kwami (talk) 03:51, 7 June 2015 (UTC)
@Kwamikagami: Thanks, comrade. I've adjusted the wording there (Names for United States citizens#Alternative terms). --Thnidu (talk) 04:30, 7 June 2015 (UTC)


GeorgeLouis, I don't mean to come off as brusk, but I feel the sections you are adding to the article are excessive and distracting. Per WP:SECT, "a proper section size is probably somewhere between 80 and 500 words" and "many short sections makes it easier to find the desired information about a subject, but might, when used in excess, disturb the fluency of an article." (emphasis mine) There should never be a section that consists of only one or a few sentences. These two paragraphs do not contain enough information to merit splitting them into sections. I think it's a strange proposition that we should "get consensus" when it is you proposing the change.--Cúchullain t/c 12:37, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

Matter of opinion, I guess. I find the single, virtually unbroken Section very difficult to get through and hard to understand. I propose that it be divided for ease of reading and editing. What do others say? Let's send up a flare and see who responds. It would help if the proposed changes were left up for a while so they could be improved on if need be. In any event, is this really worth engaging in an wp:Edit War? Sincerely, GeorgeLouis (talk) 20:12, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
The sections are distracting. It is never a good idea to break off sections or create paragraphs with only one sentence in them, any elementary school writing guide will tell you that. And no, it's certainly not worth edit warring about, but you must keep in mind that you are the one introducing the challenged alteration to the article, you are the one who needs to gather consensus in the face of a challenge. You ought to read up on WP:CON and the editing policy, especially this "Be cautious with major changes: consider discussing them first". You may draw up a new draft for others to look at if you wish, but it is not appropriate to keep restoring your controverted changes.--Cúchullain t/c 20:28, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, how would you divide the section, then? It really is too big a chunk the other way. You fix it if you want. I am open to any improvements, of course. Sincerely, GeorgeLouis (talk) 20:35, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
I have attempted a compromise. It was not a "single, virtually unbroken section", it was is a succinct section that was broken up into paragraphs consisting of only a few sentences each. I have divided the section into two subsections in the only logical manner that is apparent to see if that makes it easier, but it should not be broken up more than that.--Cúchullain t/c 20:41, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
Adding four subsections actually hindered readability, rather than helping it, IMHO. Per Cuchullain, and per Help:Section#Section size policies, I prefer the original version with no subheadings. It's not complicated enough to need subsections; the fact that there are two separate paragraphs is enough. If this section ever grows really large, they can always be added later, when they would be more useful. --Floquenbeam (talk) 22:21, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. I'll change it back to the consensus version shortly, barring some upswing of support for the sectioning.--Cúchullain t/c 14:11, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
Done.--Cúchullain t/c 13:45, 7 May 2009 (UTC)


Hi, folks.

I'm planning on setting up an auto-archive for the talk page over here. I think a 14-day lag before archiving would be appropriate. Any thoughts? — Bdb484 (talk) 14:13, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

seriously? o.o it doesn't get nearly enough for that. -- (talk) 23:31, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

Cognates section is wrong[edit]

While the Japanese may refer to citizens of the USA as "Americans", the Chinese and Koreans do not. The characters they use for the USA mean "Beautiful Country" and the characters they use for US citizens mean "Beautiful Country Person". Those are in no way cognates of "America". Tnolley (talk) 18:13, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

Actually they are. The beautiful/rice character is merely a phonetic spelling of the stressed syllable me. kwami (talk) 18:25, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
I think that is quite a stretch. Especially since there are so many dialects of Chinese. The Korean pronunciation of that character is "mee" and the name for America is "mee-gook". Nothing at all like "America". (talk) 14:55, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
"A stretch" implies that it's someone's best guess. It's not: Chinese 美 mei is just an abbreviation of phonetically spelled 亚美利加 ameirika. You find a similar situation with California, 加利福尼亚 karifunia, which has several of the same characters (for a, ka, li/ri) and is abbreviated 加.
As for why the syllable 美 mei was chosen, I've heard it was because the 亚 a is barely audible in the pronunciation of many Americans ("mercans"). However, I'm guessing it might actually be because 亚 was already used for Asia. Note that Africa 阿非利加 is also abbreviated with its second syllable: 非. The literal meanings are largely irrelevant: 亚 for Asia literally means substandard. kwami (talk) 07:52, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
The character mei ( beautiful ) was chosen for the same reason that, in Chinese, England is the clever country, France is the lawful country, and Germany is the moral country. That is to say, no good reason at all.Eregli bob (talk) 13:48, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
Although the 美 from 美國/美国 does indeed derive from the phonetical way to spell America in Chinese, the usage of 國/国 (which means country) creates a differentiation between the way the term American is used in Chinese and the way it's used in the other languages mentioned in the article (i.e. both to address the country and the continent). 美國/美国 could be translated as American Country (so a 美國人/美国人 is an American Country person), whereas for the continent, the character for country is replaced by the character for continent: 美洲 means American Continent (so 美洲人 means American Continent person). Therefore I would argue that the discussion above is not relevant, because all but one references to the Chinese language can be deleted, since they all state that the word for inhabitant of the country and inhabitant of the continent is the same, which is untrue. Only the last reference states correctly that Chinese has different terms for U.S. citizens and people from the Americas. So all in all it's already contradicting, so either the last one, or the other references should be deleted/altered. Right?:) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:26, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Claim does not match source[edit]

The claim "there is some linguistic ambiguity over this [American as synonym of US Citizen] due to the other senses of the word American, which can also refer to people from the Americas in general" is not substantiated by its reference. Reworded to match the reference this line would read "there is some controversy over this due to other possible senses of the word American, which could also refer to people from the Americas in general". It is disingenuous to claim the objections to the usual English use of American have anything to do with ambiguity. A better reference should be found or the line should be reworded. (talk) 08:33, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

What I mean is, the reference doesn't establish that there is linguistic ambiguity or that there even are other senses to the word American. Another reference is needed to make these establishments. I'm going to go ahead and replace the current line with my rewording. (talk) 08:45, 25 September 2009 (UTC)
Citations to dictionaries showing that there are other senses of the word are provided throughout the article. If necessary we can reproduce one of them and attach it to the sentence. The issue is that the ambiguity comes before, and results in, the controversy.--Cúchullain t/c 11:31, 25 September 2009 (UTC)
Ambiguity means uncertain meaning. I have never encountered an objection to American as synonymous with US Citizen on the grounds that it would confuse readers or listeners. Instead, the objection is that it is offensively exclusive of non-American inhabitants of the Americas. That a word is multisense--all major English dictionaries confirm America and American are multisense--does not mean it is always or usually ambiguous. All right, "controversy" may be inappropriate but so too is "linguistic ambiguity". The reference to this claim does not confirm any linguistic ambiguity but only that some writers believe the usual use to be exclusionary or imprecise (imprecise technically, that is, not practically). (And my IP has changed, I am the same user as above). (talk) 21:29, 25 September 2009 (UTC)
"Ambiguity" is just being used here in the sense of "the word can take more than one meaning" or "it can be understood in two or more ways". This is how it is used in literary criticism and language studies, which is why it's relevant here. The sentence doesn't imply that people will be confused by use of the word, only that it has multiple meanings, which is verified by the source and all dictionaries.--Cúchullain t/c 12:45, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

"Yankee" re Canadians[edit]

I added the little rider about Canadians also using "Yankee", though I couldn't cite what I put in the edit comment, namely that this term as used in Canada explicitly includes Southerners. Oddly enough, while you'd think there'd be lots, I can't think of any specific names used by Canadians for Yanks (which is probably more common in Canada, in fact, than the long-form "Yankees" and quite often youl'l se the latter in our print as yanquis, as a bit of anti-colonialist irony from the "banana republic of the North" (which really refers to BC more than other provinces). And somewhere in Pierre Berton , Paul St. Pierre, Stephen Leacock, John Ralston Saul et al. there may be a citable reference for the way Canadians often use "American" in a pejorative/critical sense, more usually as an adjective than as a demonym though. "too American" e.g......Skookum1 (talk) 18:31, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

You may be right, but as an article on word use, we need to stick to secondary sources on word use. This includes language guides, dictionaries, and similar texts on how words are used. As such, we can only really repeat what they say. I don't think we can quote individual authors' personal assessments as if they were some kind of authorities on the way words are used, unless they were linguists and it was a scholarly paper. And we certainly should not introduce something with no source regardless of if we know it's true or not. I know that where I live (Florida), "Yankee" is only used for folks from the Northern United States, not for Americans in general (as you say they may use "Yanks" in that sense, but largely in the context of Yanks traveling abroad.) But as I don't have a cite for it, I won't be adding it in. As to sources on the word as an adjective rather than a demonym, that's not a discussion for this page, which deals with specifically the demonym of US citizens, but rather for the article of American (word).--Cúchullain t/c 15:05, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

Change to headline:[edit]

Minor word change:

  • From: Different languages use different terms for citizens of the United States, the people known in English as Americans.
  • To: Different languages use different terms for citizens of the United States, who are known in English as Americans.

While people from the U.S. are commonly called "Americans", they are not the only people that Anglophones refer to as such. However common doesn't matter. A dictionary will cite at least 2 definitions for "American", and one will be related to the American continent. So I fixed the wording to demonstrate that. Rennell435 (talk) 12:07, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

How come "However common doesn't matter" doesn't matter? Is it because you're the other Anglophone who calls all and sundry Americans? BTW, there is no American continent. There is North America and South America also known as The Americas. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:35, 17 October 2009 (UTC)

I think it is important to remember, that regardless of controversy or non-controversy over the use of American, the United States itself lists "American" as the nationality of its citizens on all legal forms; American is the term used on every government sites (White House, U.S. Embassies, etc.) for citizens of the United States. The CIA Factbook lists American as the only term for nationality.

It is important to remember that this controversy is not and English language controversy, and not one born out of ambiguity of what Americans call themselves. There is no alternative for American in terms of nationality. The controversy should only be referencing the use of the term American out of context where it would not readily be understood as a demonym for U.S. citizenry. Extrabatteries (talk) 19:31, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

The controversy does carry over to English, hence all the English sources discussing it. And since this article discusses "names for U.S. citizens", not just the name they call themselves in their primary language, it bears discussion even if it did not.--Cúchullain t/c 20:39, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
You may have misunderstood what I have written. The discussion is regarding American in English, in so much as that it is an English word. The controversy is the contemporary reaction to the use, not whether or not it is in use itself. The term American is the ascribed and accepted word used by the United States and its citizenry in stating or referencing United States nationality. The controversy can be whether some do not like Americans calling themselves Americans, which is a contemporary discussion, and needs not in any way debate the actuality that the term is in use. The article discusses the two issues as if they are one in the same, remembering that regardless of preference, American is the term for United States nationality. The articles discussing the controversy cite letters to a news magazine 25 years ago, and other obscure quoted references from the 1800's. You'll notice the Spanish language sources reference 'americano', as the controversial term, not the English word American.Extrabatteries (talk) 22:02, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
No one is doubting that US citizens are called "Americans" in English. All that is being said is that there is some amount of linguistic ambiguity in the term because of its other senses (as opposed to vagueness, where hearers might not understand which sense is intended). This ambiguity has made for some controversy over "proper" usage. This controversy is intrinsically linked with the Spanish americano/estadounidense controversy, but is prominent enough in English to be noted in the cited articles and language guides.--Cúchullain t/c 04:28, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Personally, I like 'American' and would be happy with 'North American' I find all the 'Us__' terms to be absolutely absurd. If we must use something based on 'United States', I propose 'Statesmen'.--Meteoramonk ([User talk:Meteoramonk|talk]]) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:40, 6 December 2009 (UTC)


Should it be mentioned that the use of this term to mean all United States citizens is puzzling and/or insulting to many of us from below the Mason-Dixon line? (talk) 06:05, 28 December 2009 (UTC)Khajidha (just realized I'm not logged in and too lazy to do so)

Yes, definitely, though most people who use the term aren't aware of that. kwami (talk) 00:26, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
Agreed that this is worth adding, and also that English-language usage of yankee to mean US citizens generally is usually outside the United States (most of us Americans realizing it is annoying at best for Southerners). I don't think anything in the edit I just made should be controversial, but if someone knows a good reference covering the use of the term in the US and can add it, it would be an improvement. --CAVincent (talk) 01:03, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
As I implied above, it may be a good idea but we can't attribute it to the OED, which says no such thing. We'd have to find some other source. But it's not really pressing, as this article isn't on the word yankee, nor is it on "names for people from the norheastern United States". It's on names for Americans generally, and as such that sense is the only one that really matters here.--Cúchullain t/c 03:00, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
I won't lose any sleep, but I think the matter is a little more pressing than you suggest. Right now, the article states that Yankee is a common colloquial English term for US citizens, but really it is common in every English-speaking country except the United States where it is rare, a distinction worth making (and yes, this is directly germane to the subject of "Names for U.S citizens"). Also, assuming Wikipedia has some value in actually providing information to the world, it seems to me worthwhile to let non-American's know that some of us don't want to be called Yankee (at least as worthwhile as informing US citizens that calling ourselves Americans can annoy our Latin friends). Unfortunately, I don't have online access to the OED (link in article requires affiliation with the University of North Florida) so unless I drag myself to the library I can't check exactly what the reference says to conform with it. Oh well, somewhere on my to-do list.... --CAVincent (talk) 03:30, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
I think the caveat is aptly covered with the line "While 'Yankee' may refer to people specifically from New England or the Northern United States, it has been applied to Americans generally since the 18th century, especially by the British." I have rephrased it somewhat to be clear that the use of Yankee for northerner is largely endemic to the US. The OED says nothing about Southerners finding the broader use inaccurate or offensiv". The difference between this and the offense Spanish-speakers may take to use of the word "American" is that there are multiple sources attesting the latter.--Cúchullain t/c 13:40, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

With the changes you just made to clarify, it seems satisfactory to me. --CAVincent (talk) 21:08, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

It's also often meant to be pejorative when used to refer to all US citizens. Much like how gringo isn't automatically pejorative, but in practice usually is. (talk) 04:49, 13 September 2010 (UTC)


In the US, Yankee is only referred to as a Norther person. It would be offensive to call any American not from the northeast a Yankee. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Repiceman89 (talkcontribs) 13:55, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

Please see the above discussion. The article now indicates that within the US the term "Yankee" usually refers to someone from New England or the North. General discussion of the term yankee is better placed at that article.--Cúchullain t/c 14:16, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

Recurring Themes Header[edit]

At present, the recurring themes header on the page reads:

No one disputes that "American" is the most common word in English for an inhabitant of the United States, and that point does not need to be repeated here. At the same time, no one disputes that "American" can also mean an inhabitant of the Americas and therefore of countries other than the US, and that point does not need to be repeated here either. The part of this article that covers alternate terms is concerned with this linguistic ambiguity and the minor controversy associated with it. This ambiguity does exist in English, even if it is more prominent in other languages. Whether you personally find these words stupid or offensive, or whether you think you've found a better one, is irrelevant to the article.

Now, it cannot be (legitimately) disputed that "American" is the most common English demonym for citizens of the United States. However, it most certainly can and should be disputed that "American" means an inhabitant of the Americas (cf. above for discussion of asking Canadians, 'So, you're an American?' or the cognitive dissonance of saying 'A Colombian is an American.') The header could be amended to read "No one disputes that américano can also mean an inhabitant of the Americas" or "No one disputes that, appropriately qualified, "American" can also mean an inhabitant of the Americas" ... but that's probably more objectionable than passing over the point in silence.

Proposed alteration punts the issue and reads:

Disputes and discussion about the appropriateness or inappropriateness of referring to citizens of the United States as Americans more properly belong at American (word). For this page, please note that whether you personally find these words stupid or offensive or whether you think you've found a better one is irrelevant to the article.

-LlywelynII (talk) 00:00, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Yeah, that's probably better.
A couple days ago I heard Canadians referred to as "Americans" on US TV without any qualifier except context, and it was clear what was meant. Didn't think to write it down! kwami (talk) 01:08, 7 April 2010 (UTC)


This bit of plagiarism was allowed to sit on the page for nearly a year and a half. Please keep an eye out in the future, rʨanaɢ (talk) 15:24, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

That's disheartening. Thanks for identifying and removing it.--Cúchullain t/c 15:28, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
Ummm, not sure two sentences constitute plagiarism.--CAVincent (talk) 04:13, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
Of course it does, that is far to close to the source without identifying it as a quote. That kind of thing would get you failed at school.--Cúchullain t/c 12:14, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia policy?[edit]

There is a user who objects to the use of the demonym "American" for citizens of the U.S. My understanding of English as a teacher, and of Wikipedia, are that U.S. should be used for government and official things, and that American refers to the people and culture. I think Wikipedia sees it this way, and I have seen it but I can't find it. This user has repeatedly been asked not to change the perfectly fine demonym American per WP:IDONTLIKEIT, but they persist. Is there a policy I can point them to? --Chris (クリス • フィッチュ) (talk) 13:32, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

Both adjectives "U.S." and "American" are very well established in English, so both may be used on Wikipedia. It is highly unproductive to switch back and forth between two acceptable forms without good reason. Though it doesn't deal with this specifically, the principle of not switching from one variety to another is covered at WP:RETAIN.--Cúchullain t/c 13:11, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

Article needs to be gutted[edit]

This article should approach the subject of its title and not diverge to recap (when a link would do) what has already been covered on the pages: America, American (word) and American. Its strange enough to have an ambiguous page name "Names for U.S. citizens" rather than "Names of Americans" , "Demonyms of the United States" or "List of Gentilics for the United States." This page looks doomed from its inception for being too vague, and self-important. The category "Development of the term" "International Use" and "Alternate Terms" all seem strange as category titles since they directly address the word American but the article omits the use of the word American in its title. Lastly the "Alternate Terms" needs a better heading than this, it doesn't address alternate terms, it is a compilation of historic attempts at alternate terms, none of which is contemporary. The whole article is sidestepping the usage of the word American for Americans, and rather than being an encyclopedic reference to American and United States citizen naming, its an article walking on eggshells trying to accommodate personal preferences of wikipedia users who are simply biased against it. --Extrabatteries (talk) 12:50, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

The title seems to be your primary issue. The article was originally located at Names of the Americans, to be consistent with our articles on such things as Names of the Greeks, Names of the Celts, etc. It eventually ended up here after a lengthy discussion (and a move war). The article is very clear that "American" is the only common term in English for US citizens; other than calling them fully "U.S. citizens", "citizens of the United States" or some such, there are no contemporary alternatives at all in common usage. As such any alternatives listed are going to be historical, colloquial, or just not widely used. The "international" section is intended to describe what Americans are called in other languages, which it does.--Cúchullain t/c 13:11, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
I understand that it sprung from similar pages like that of the ones you mention about the Greeks and Celts. The problem here is that by calling it specifically "Names for U.S. citizens" (vs something more broad) means the article should be much more specific as well. The page "Names of the Greeks" covers more than Greece the country, it is not an article for the "Names of Greek citizens" which would be a totally different article, similar to the "Greeks" article. I approve of the articles content, and I am not questioning its facts, you are correct in that my problem with it is mostly the page title and headings are too specific (page name) or too vague (headings), one which I saw you bettered already. --Extrabatteries (talk) 13:50, 27 May 2010 (UTC)


This name has historical importance. It might offend a number of people in the Americas and they may want to be politically correct and get us to change it but that's more offensive. When we became American over here we were the only Americans known internationally. "Native Americans" were known as Indians and everyone else took the name of the people of their ruler. Canadians were British, Mexicans were Spanish, and Brazilians were Portuguese. There would be a shock if we demanded that Mexico no longer call it's citizens Mexican. We were the only Americans at the time. We chose our name. People decided to free themselves from Kings and now it's not cool?Serialjoepsycho (talk) 09:49, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

The Above is not written to confuse other editors that can not differentiate a factual statement from an opinion. I apologize for doing so. I'm sure that revisionists will eventually accomplsih their goals. The point is that American as the name for US citizens. America is embolden in our country name. Any discussion here on removing it or deemphasizing it is unfounded. There's no talk of making citizens of the Netherlands become Netherlandians. They are the Dutch. There are other countries with Dutch majorities. i don't see the talk of removing Dutch from Netherlands citizens. Talk such as this is very unbecoming of a encyclopedia.Serialjoepsycho (talk) 20:26, 3 April 2011 (UTC)


Read it's use on this page and then read it's use on American (word). On this Page it was "Popularized" by Frank L Wright but on the American word page it was simply created by him and it's usage is very uncommon. It also points out that their are no common Alternatives. It's interesting how it's written on this page. It's written almost as if people should consider using it instead of simply pointing out that it's one of many unused alternatives.Serialjoepsycho (talk) 20:45, 3 April 2011 (UTC)


Is a derogatory term against whites in some situations. It is a term that denotes English speaking foreigner. Aussie's, British, Canadian, and whom ever else are Gringos in Mexico. It's not a term solely for the US.Serialjoepsycho (talk) 20:55, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

  • in brazil gringo is a positive term..gringo = tourist, richest, blue eyes, blond, germanic/slavic/nordic/alp origin (english, german, etc), etc..


the correct term not is usanian?united-statean/state-unitedean? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:31, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

The continental divide[edit]

The real problem is that, in the English-speaking world, "America" is considered two continents: North America (from Canada down to the Panama-Columbia border) and South America. But, in the Spanish-speaking world (plus Brazil), they are considered one continent: America. So in English, the place is actually called "The Americas". Therefore, since in English, there really isn't a place called America per se, people are fine with using that term to refer to the U.S. Anyway, I've switched over to called the people U.S.-Americans.

(A little note here; in the "they're one continent, you idiots" view, North America is a big chunk of the continent called "America", going from Canada to the Mexico. South America is what us "they're two continents, go back to school"-ers call South America, and Central America is everything in between. Which is our definition, too. So if you say to a Costa Rican that they are in North America, you'd probably be lying. Or not. Or maybe you are. Or... I DUNNO, JUST DON'T... SAY IT...) (talk) 20:12, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

It's Colombia, not Columbia, cmon. Jcardosarr (talk) 04:43, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

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