I. a land mass of the western hemisphere consisting of the continents of North and South America joined by the Isthmus of Panama. II. used as a name for the United States.
America was originally inhabited by American Indians and Inuit peoples. The NE coastline of North America was visited by Norse seamen in the early 11th century, but for the modern world America was first reached by Christopher Columbus, who arrived in the Caribbean in 1492 and the South American mainland in 1498. / – origin the name America dates from the early 16th cent. and is believed to derive from the Latin form ( Americus) of the name of Amerigo Vespucci, who sailed along the west coast of South America in 1501.