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

  • A medieval name for China popularized by Marco Polo in accounts of his travels. It usually applied only to the area north of the Yangtze River.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun China; -- an old name for the Celestial Empire, said have been introduced by Marco Polo and to be a corruption of the Tartar name for North China (Khitai, the country of the Khitans.)

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

  • proper noun The name that was given to northern China by Marco Polo
  • proper noun by extension, an alternate name for China.

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

  • noun a communist nation that covers a vast territory in eastern Asia; the most populous country in the world


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Medieval Latin Cataya, Cathaya, ultimately (via Turkic languages) from Khitan Khitai, the Khitan people (who ruled in northern China and Central Asia in an era of increasing interaction between China, the Muslim world, and Europe).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Portuguese "Catai", from Khitan (契丹, Qìdān), the Chinese name of a Mongolian tribe who ruled Manchuria from 907-1115 CE. Cognate with Spanish Catay and Russian Китай.


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  • But I think Cathay is a strategically strong carrier ...

    Cathay Pacific posts record $1.1 billion loss for 2008 2009

  • Fourth, many Americans put credence in Cathay for the simple reason that they wanted to do so.

    The Romance of China: Excursions to China in U.S. Culture: 1776-1876 2005

  • Apart from Citic, which has a 12.5 per cent stake in Cathay Pacific, 46 per cent in Dragonair, 15 per cent in the Coca-Cola bottling company in China, and 50 per cent in the recent Hong Kong land acquisition that I just mentioned, our Chinese partners include the China National Aviation Corporation, China Travel, China Merchants Holdings and a number of local and regional mainland companies.

    Riding the Dragon—The Swire Group Beyond 1997 1994

  • Citic is content with minority shareholdings in Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Telecom because the Chinese shareholders prefer it to be clear that the companies which have made these operations successful continue to control them.

    Hong Kong: Myths and Realities 1992

  • The pagoda has probably been scattered to the four winds of heaven, and the ship on which I journeyed from Ireland to Cathay is lying on the corals, with mermaids sleeping in its berths and swimming in and out the portholes.

    The Blue Cat of Castle Town 1949

  • "'Tis as fine as the silk I handled in Cathay, pusskins."

    The Blue Cat of Castle Town 1949

  • At eleven at night this transplanted city of Cathay is still all alive; the streets crowded with a moving stream of black blouses and yellow faces – every one cheerful, chattering, and wide awake.

    In Seven Stages: A Flying Trip Around the World 1891

  • "Far in the East is the great country that we call Cathay, though in truth it has many other names, and I alone of all who breathe in England have visited that land."

    Red Eve Henry Rider Haggard 1890

  • The folk marvelled at this quill, when they saw it, and the man who was called Abd al-Rahman the Moor (and he was known, to boot, as the Chinaman, for his long sojourn in Cathay), related to them the following adventure, one of many of his traveller’s tales of marvel.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night 2006

  • Shanghai officials pressed the state-run owner of the historic Peace Hotel, formerly called the Cathay Hotel, to undertake a multimillion-dollar renovation.

    Shanghai, Built for the Machine Age 2009


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