first attestation of the plural "Americas" in English?

asked 2020-11-12 15:36:50 -0400

Peter C gravatar image

Hello. In current parlance, we see the plural form "Americas" used typically with the definite article, "the Americas". (I'm not posting examples, because they are countless and easily discovered.) It is variously defined as "North and South America", "North, Central, and South America", " the Caribbean", "the New World", "the Western Hemisphere" (but presumably not bits of Antarctica), and so on.

But, does the term "Americas" in the plural go back to the Age of Discovery, or is it a relatively recent coinage? When was it first used in English, and was the meaning close to the way it is now used? Here's ngrams for Americas.

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