The names of the world’s biggest countries are well known and used in everyday life. People rarely stop to think about the origin of these names. That’s why we decided to dedicate a special series of articles on the subject. In the first one we’ll analyse  the origins of the names of Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Iceland.

Origin Of The Name Of Argentina

The silver land” is the literal meaning of “Tierra Argentina”. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that it’s the name origin of the South American country Argentina. The core of the name is in the Spanish word “argento” – it means silver. If we dwell deeper in the roots of the word we’ll get to the latin “Argon” – the name of silver. Historically, Argentina was first used as a name in the first years of 16th century, during the Spanish and Portuguese conquests to Rio de la plata (meaning “River of Silver”.)

naming argentina

Origin Of The Name Of Australia

“Terra Australis Incognita” is a latin phrase that dates back to the Roman era. It means “Unknown Southern Land”. So the continent Australia adopted it’s name from the latin words that were used for it back in the old times. Australia officially became known with its actual name in 1824.

Origin Of The Name Of Canada

The internet is full of theories and stories about the etymology of Canada’s name. The official version is that the name comes from the Iroquoian word “kanata” that means “village”. According to history in 1535 the French explorer Jacques Cartier was directed to the village of Stadacona with the word “kanata” by local inhabitants of the present-day Quebec City. Cartier was the one who first used the word Canada as a name not only of the village he explored, but also as a name of the whole area.


Iceland is a country with a name  that clearly points to what it means – ice + land = Iceland (land of ice). However, there is more in the name’s meaning and it is related to its history. According to one report the name Iceland was an attempt to keep outsiders away from the land. However, there is another account on the matter of Iceland’s name history. According to Landnamabok, the early explorer Flóki Vilgerðarson named the land Iceland because he noticed a drift of ice. There is a third theory, though it’s not a very well accepted one. According to the theory the origin of the name is connected not with the word ice, but with the word “Isis” – the Egyptian goddess. Isis + land = Island.

Was it useful for you to know these secrets behind the names of the countries? Or do you have something to add?  Share in the comments. Or share the article on your news feed and stay tuned for the next one :)