Name of Australia How Did Australia Get Its Name?

Claudius Ptolemy in about 200AD popularised the name Terra Australias

Photo: Claudius Ptolemy in about 200AD popularised the name Terra Australis

The name Australia comes from the Latin word Australis, which means southern. It was first used by the Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernandes de Queirós to describe an island in Vanuatu. He derived this name from ancient maps from as early as 200AD by Claudius Ptolemy, which referred to a yet to be discovered land as Terra Australis Incognita, meaning the great unknown southern land.

In 1803, Matthew Flinders, a British explorer, suggested the name “Australia” for the vast southern continent he had just circumnavigated and mapped.

In 1901 the six colonies of the continent of Australia agreed to unite and form a nation with a shared loyalty. This newly formed country was to be officially named the Commonwealth of Australia.


Why was Australia called Terra Australis?What was Australia First Called?

Ancient map of Australia

Photo: 1570 Map with hypothetical land at bottom

Terra Australis means great southern land. As early as 500BC the ancient Greeks argued that that the world was a sphere; round like a tennis ball and that a great landmass must exist on the bottom of the earth in the south to counterbalance the "known world" on the top, in the north. (See yellow area on map).

In about 200AD, Claudius Ptolemy, a Greek mapmaker drew in an fictional land on the bottom of his maps of the world. This imaginary land in the south was referred to as Terra Australis which means the Southern Land in Latin (terra=land + australis=southern).

This was the name Australia was called before it was discovered by the Europeans starting from the 15th century.

There is no record of the name for Australia before the Europeans and white settlement. The native inhabitants of Australia, the Aboriginals, did not have a name for the entire continent.

Who Discovered Australia


Who First Used of the Word Australia? First Documented Used of the Word Australia

Photo: Pedro Fernandes de Queirós Australia

Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, a Portuguese navigator in the service of the Spanish, was commissioned by King Philip III to find Terra Australis. In 1606 his expedition reached a large island. Queirós believed he had found the southern continent, and named it Australia del Espiritu Santo. In fact, he was nearly 2,000 kilometres off target, on an island that is now part of the nation of Vanuatu.

This is the first usage of the word "Australia". In his printed memoirs this name was altered to Austrialia del Espíritu Santo (Southern-Austrian Land of the Holy Spirit) being a concatenation of Austria and Australis in order to flatter Phillip III who was of the royal House of Austria.


First English Usage of the Word But they called it Austrialia (with an extra letter "i")

The first-ever recorded reference in the English language was in 1625 by Sir Richard Hakluyt in his reference “A note of Austrialia del Espíritu Santo” of the publication Hakluytus Posthumus which referred to Queirós's memoirs. He followed Queirós's published spelling for the word, with the additional letter "i". (Austrialia).

10 Australia's Name Facts

  1. The name Australia is derived from the Latin word australis, which means 'southern'.
  2. This word, australis, was first used nearly two thousand years ago in the name of an imaginary land called Terra Australis Incognito–the Unknown Southern Land.
  3. 3. The first recorded use of the word Australia was by the Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernandes de Queirós in 1606.
  4. The Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman charted the coast in 1644 and called the place New Holland.
  5. The name New Holland was in common usage for the southern land until the mid-1850s.
  1. When the British first established a settlement in 1788 they claimed all the land up to 135th meridian east longitude and named it New South Wales. The rest was still called New Holland.
  2. In 1803 the English explorer Matthew Flinders was the first to circumnavigate and map the entire continent. He suggested that the whole continent by called Australia.
  3. Finally, in 1824, the British Admiralty agreed that the continent should be officially called Australia.
  4. The official name for the country of Australia is the Commonwealth of Australia.
  5. The original names for Australia Australia included Terra Australis, New South Wales and New Holland. These old names were dropped in 1824.

What About the Dutch & Portuguese? They Had No Idea it was the Southern Land

Photo: 1663 Map of Abel Tasman's discoveries

There is a good chance the Portuguese sailed past the northern parts of the continent, but they didn't realise the significance of the lands they saw and didn't record their observations. As early as 1606 Dutch Dutch explorers charted sections of the northern, western and southern coasts of the continent. They too thought the land they encountered were just the coastlines of large islands.

The Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman sailing along the western and northern coast of Australia in 1644 name the lands he saw New Holland (Dutch: Nieuw Holland Latin: Nova Holland). It doesn't appear that he realised this was Terra Austalis. The Dutch never claimed any of the territory as their own.

New Holland was name subsequently ad0pted by many others.


What did The First British Call It? They Colonise the Place

The British explorer James Cook, who had been secretly commissioned in 1770 by the British Admiralty to find the southern land arrived on the east coast on 29th April 1770. Cook initially referred to the place as New Holland. He claimed it for the British and named the place New Wales and then change the name to New South Wales.

When the British established a colony in the new territory in 1788, they claimed all the land up to 135th meridian east longitude (135° east) as part of New South Wales. The rest, yet the unexplored western half of the continent still retained the name New Holland.


The British Finally Named it 'Australia' When was Australia Officially Named?

George Shaw, a British naturalist, in his work Zoology of New Holland of 1794 wrote "the vast Island or rather Continent of Australia, Australasia, or New Holland, which has so lately attracted particular attention." But he still referred to the place as New Holland.

In 1803 the English explorer Matthew Flinders was the first to circumnavigate and map the entire continent. It was he who suggested the name in a footnote in his book A Voyage to Terra Australis published in 1814.

"Had I permitted myself any innovation on the original term, it would have been to convert it to AUSTRALIA; as being more agreeable to the ear, and an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the earth."

Photo: Map of Australia by Matthew Flinders

On 12 December 1817, Governor Lachlan Macquarie recommended to the British Colonial Office that the "Australia" be adopted as the name of the continent still being referred to as New Holland.

Finally, in 1824, the British Admiralty agreed that the continent should be officially called Australia.

Who Discovered Australia


Conclusion - Who Named Australia So Who Named Australia?

The first person to use the word Australia was Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, a Portuguese navigator who, in 1606, assigned this name to an island in Vanautu.

It was the English explorer Matthew Flinders who suggested that the continent be called AUSTRALIA. So Matthew Flinders is credited with assigning the name Australia to the great southern land.


The Official Name for Australia What is the Real Name of Australia?

The official name for Australia is the Commonwealth of Australia . This country is made up of six states and two territories that occupy the continent of Australia. While the country is often referred to as Australia, there was no country by that name. (Similarly, there is no country called America–it is the United Sates of America).


The Land of Oz

The Strine word "Oz" is a phonetic shortened form of the word Australia. It first appeared in 1906 as “Oss” and sometimes as “Aus” (rhymes with boss). This morphed into “OZ”, sounding the same as oss and Aus. This transformation may have been a consequence of the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz.

Other Names for Australia What Do Australians Call Their Home?

The people of Australia refer to their country by several slang names.

Australia
Oz
Land Down Under
Down Under
Aussie
the Lucky Country
Home

Australia Facts, Description, People, Language, Economy


Aboriginal Name for Australia What the Original Inhabitants of the Continent Call Their Home

At the time the first Europeans arrived on the continent of what was to become Australia, there were 500 to 1,000 aboriginal tribes with different languages and traditions scattered throughout the land. These people did not have a continent-wide collective consciousness of the place, mainly because they did not realised that it was one huge island, nor did they see the land as belonging to anyone in particular. Instead, they had names for their own traditional tribal areas but not for the continent known today as Australia.

Aboriginals - The First Australian