Who was Australia named after?

Updated: 8/19/2023
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13y ago

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Sea explorer Matthew Flinders was the one who first proposed the name "Terra Australis", which became "Australia", as a result of his circumnavigation of the continent. He suggested the name in his book "A voyage to Terra Australis", which was published in the year he died, in 1814. The name Australia was adopted in 1824. Prior to this, the continent was known as Terra Australis Incognita, or the Unknown Southern Land.
The name is derived from the Latin Australis meaning Southern. The earliest use of the word Australia in English, was in 1625 written by Sir Richard Halluyt. Legends of 'Terra Australis Incognito', meaning unknown 'land of the south' dates to Roman times

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Australia was not named after any person.

The name "Australia" comes from the Latin term Terra Australis meaning "land of the south". Often known as Terra Australis Incognita, i.e. "the unknown land of the South", it was the name given to the unknown continent believed to exist south of the equator. This unknown land was included on European maps from the 15th to the 18th century.

The Australian continent was variously known as Locac or Lucach, India meridional (South India), Java le Grande and Terra Australis by Mercator (and others) in the latter half of the 1500s.

Portuguese sailor Pedro Fernández de Quirós (in portuguese Fernandes de Queirós), searched for this new land in 1606 while serving in the spanish navy, and called it Austrialia del Espíritu Santo or 'Great South Land of the Holy Spirit'. The word "Austrialia", slightly different from the current "Australia", was a mixture formed by "Austria" (the country of origin of the Habsburg dinasty) and "Austral" ("Southern"). In those times the current nations of Spain and Portugal were under the rule of the same crown. The word Austrialia was intended to be an homage to the ruling monarchs. Different variations on the name were used in many languages. There was, however, a German document dating back to 1545 describing a southern land mass as Australia.

(note the link below for a reference to this document)

The first use of the word "Australia" in English was in 1625-the words "A note of Australia del Espiritu Santo, written by Master Hakluyt.

Matthew Flinders, who was the first known European explorer to circumnavigate the Australian continent in 1802, is credited with assigning the name 'Australia' to this continent although it did not immediately receive universal approval. He first proposed the name "Terra Australis" be adopted instead of "New Holland", the name by which the Dutch knew Australia, or "New South Wales", which Cook had named the eastern half when he claimed it for England. In 1814 when Flinders published his work 'A Voyage to Terra Australis', he used the term 'Australia' within the book. Around 1818, Governor Lachlan Macquarie, arguably the most influential man in Australia at the time, also requested that the name "Australia" be officially ascribed.

The name 'Australia' was formally adopted in 1824.

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