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Australia

[aw-streyl-yuh] /ɔˈstreɪl yə/
noun
1.
a continent SE of Asia, between the Indian and the Pacific oceans. 2,948,366 sq. mi. (7,636,270 sq. km).
2.
Commonwealth of, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, consisting of the federated states and territories of Australia and Tasmania. 2,974,581 sq. mi. (7,704,165 sq. km).
Capital: Canberra.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for commonwealth of australia

Australia

/ɒˈstreɪlɪə/
noun
1.
a country and the smallest continent, situated between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific: a former British colony, now an independent member of the Commonwealth, constitutional links with Britain formally abolished in 1986; consists chiefly of a low plateau, mostly arid in the west, with the basin of the Murray River and the Great Dividing Range in the east and the Great Barrier Reef off the NE coast. Official language: English. Religion: Christian majority. Currency: dollar. Capital: Canberra. Pop: 23 029 674 (2013 est). Area: 7 682 300 sq km (2 966 150 sq miles)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for commonwealth of australia

Australia

from Latin Terra Australis (16c.), from australis "southern" + -ia. A hypothetical southern continent, known as terra australis incognita, had been proposed since 2c. Dutch explorers called the newfound continent New Holland; the current name was suggested 1814 by Matthew Flinders as an improvement over Terra Australis "as being more agreeable to the ear, and an assimilation to the name of the other great portions of the earth" ["Voyage to Terra Australis"]. In 1817 Gov. Lachlan Macquarie, having read Flinders' suggestion, began using it in official correspondence. The ultimate source is Latin auster "south wind," hence, "the south country."

The Latin sense shift in australis, if it is indeed the same word other Indo-European languages use for east (see aurora), for which Latin uses oriens (see orient), perhaps is based on a false assumption about the orientation of the Italian peninsula, "with shift through 'southeast' explained by the diagonal position of the axis of Italy" [Buck]; cf. Walde, Alois, "Lateinisches etymologisches Wörterbuch," 3rd. ed., vol. 1, p.87; Ernout, Alfred, and Meillet, Alfred, "Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue latine," 2nd. ed., p.94. Or perhaps the connection is more ancient, and from PIE root *aus- "to shine," source of aurora, which also produces words for "burning," with reference to the "hot" south wind that blows into Italy. Thus auster "(hot) south wind," metaphorically extended to "south."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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commonwealth of australia in Culture

Australia definition


Nation occupying the whole of Australia, the smallest continent, between the Indian Ocean and the southwest Pacific Ocean. Its capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney.

Note: The first settlements there were penal colonies for British convicts.
Note: Its aboriginal tribes, which still exist today (see aborigines), are thought to have migrated from Southeast Asia twenty thousand years ago.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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