(1) A nation occupying the whole of the Australian continent; aboriginal tribes are thought to have migrated from southeastern Asia 20,000 years ago; first Europeans were British convicts sent there as a penal colony
(2) The smallest continent; between the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean
First attested 16th century, from , from auster
(“the south wind”). Used also in 1693 (quotation below). Popularised by Matthew Flinders
in 1814 (quotation below).
See also Terra Australis
- A country in Oceania. Official name: Commonwealth of Australia.
- 1693: translation of a French novel by Jacques Sadeur (believed to be a pen name of Gabriel de Foigny) titled Les Aventures de Jacques Sadeur dans la Découverte et le Voiage de la Terre Australe published 1692, translation published in London in 1693. Quoted in The Australian Language by Sidney J. Baker, second edition, 1966, chapter XIX, section 1, pages 388-9.
- This is all that I can have a certain knowledge of as to that side of Australia ...
- 1814, Matthew Flinders, A Voyage to Terra Australis, volume 1 (at Project Gutenberg)
- Had I permitted myself any innovation upon the original term, it would have been to convert it into AUSTRALIA; as being more agreeable to the ear, and an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the earth.
- The continent of Australia-New Guinea. New Guinea and the intervening islands are also on the Australian tectonic plate and are thus geologically considered part of the continent.
- land down under
- New Holland
- Terra Australis