from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • The world's smallest continent, southeast of Asia between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
  • A commonwealth comprising the continent of Australia, the island state of Tasmania, and several island territories and dependencies. The continent was inhabited by Aboriginal peoples for at least 40,000 years before the first British settlement, a penal colony at Port Jackson (now part of Sydney), was established in 1788. The present-day states grew as separate colonies; six of them formed a federation in 1901. In 1911 Northern Territory joined the commonwealth and the Capital Territory, site of Canberra, was created. Canberra is the capital and Sydney is the largest city.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • proper noun A country in Oceania. Official name: Commonwealth of Australia.
  • proper noun geology The continent of Australia-New Guinea. New Guinea and the intervening islands are also on the Australian tectonic plate and are thus geologically considered part of the continent.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a nation occupying the whole of the Australian continent; Aboriginal tribes are thought to have migrated from southeastern Asia 20,000 years ago; first Europeans were British convicts sent there as a penal colony
  • noun the smallest continent; between the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

First attested 16th century, from Latin terra austrālis incōgnita ("unknown southern land"), from auster ("the south wind"). Used also in 1693 (quotation below). Popularised by Matthew Flinders in 1814 (quotation below).


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  • A country in Oceania, often considered a continent in it's own right.

    June 28, 2009