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Melanesia

[mel-uh-nee-zhuh, -shuh] /ˌmɛl əˈni ʒə, -ʃə/
noun
1.
one of the three principal divisions of Oceania, comprising the island groups in the S Pacific NE of Australia.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for Melanesia

Melanesia

/ˌmɛləˈniːzɪə/
noun
1.
one of the three divisions of islands in the Pacific (the others being Micronesia and Polynesia); the SW division of Oceania: includes Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, the Bismarck Archipelago, and the Louisiade, Solomon, Santa Cruz, and Loyalty Islands, which all lie northeast of Australia
Word Origin
C19: from Greek melas black + nēsos island; with reference to the dark skins of the inhabitants; on the model of Polynesia
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for Melanesia

one of three large divisions of Pacific islands, 1840, from a continental language, from melano- + nesos "island" (see Chersonese) + -ia. Modeled after Polynesia and meant to signify "the islands inhabited by blacks."

La Melanesia comprende la grande isola Australia, e quelle degli arcipelaghi di Salomone, di Lapèrouse, di Quiros, e dei gruppi della Nuova Caledonia, di Norfolk, e della Diemenin. A cagione dei Neri Oceanici, che, quasi esclusivamente, ne popolano le regioni, questa parte della Oceania ebbe dai moderni geografi e viaggiatori (il Graberg, il Rienzi, il d'Urville, ec.) il nome di Melanesia. ["Corso di Geografia Universale," Firenze, 1839]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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