This story from today’s USA Today reminded me of something semi-interesting:
"Centuries before it became a continent or country synonymous with wealth, power or democracy, ’America’ was coined by a Renaissance cartographer as the catchall designation for a world that Europeans had yet to name or explore.
The name stuck despite its humble history and unsure start at a backwater French court. It celebrates the 500th anniversary of its baptism in the remote town of St. Die today, exactly a half-millennium after its first use on a world map."
The cartrographer was Martin Waldseemueller and his map and accompanying 103-page book "Cosmographiae Introductio" caused the hemisphere to be named for explorer Amerigo Vespucci instead of Christopher Columbus (since Columbus thgought he was in Asia). He noted in his book (published in April 25, 1507) that Europe and Asia are named after women (I’m not sure about Asia, but Herodotus thought so), so he couldn’t understand why this new continent couldn’t be named after a man. That’s fine, but for my late father it got even better: Dad loved saying that America was named after a Hungarian. Here is how he reasoned: Amorigo is Italian for Emmerich in German, and Emmerich is the German form of Imre, a name otherwise not used but in Hungary. Therefore, America is a Hungarian name (if not actually Hungary itself!). O.K. you’re right, I have entirely too much time on my hands. I’ll try to get something done, like reading a thesis on Vaclac Havel, whose name, by the way, really means...oh, never mind.