Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


the large area of land that is between Asia and the Atlantic Ocean

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The name of the continent of Europe comes from a Greek myth about a princess called Europa who was courted by Zeus in the form of a bull, although the story predates classical times and the name may not be Greek in origin. The name Europe has been in use since Old English.


May 9th is Europe Day, which celebrates peace and unity in Europe. Saturday was the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, which marked the start of the journey towards the creation of the European Union. In a speech in Paris on that day in 1950 Robert Schuman, who was the French foreign minister at the time, set out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe, which would make war between European countries unthinkable. In addition to referring to the continent of Europe, the word Europe is used in British English to refer to the land mass apart from the British Isles. This idea of Europe as something separate from the UK in particular is reflected in the famous (if apocryphal) headline: ‘Fog in Channel, Continent Cut Off’. Europe is also used as shorthand for the European Union.


We must build a kind of United States of Europe.”
(Winston Churchill, Zurich 1946)

We are part of the community of Europe and must do our duty as such.”
(Lord Salisbury, 1888)

Related words

the Americas, Antarctica, Asia, Australia

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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