- Antarctica comes from the Greek word “antarktike,” which literally means “opposite to the north.” The continent is, of course, home to the southernmost point on Earth. John George Bartholomew, a Scottish cartographer, is believed to be the first person to use “Antarctica” to refer to the continent. However, the name was used for a different place by the French before this. In the 1500s, they held a colony in Brazil below the equator which they named France Antartique.
- Asia derives from the Ancient Greek “Ἀσία”, which was used as early as 440 B.C. by Herodotus in his Histories. However, it is likely that the name was in use long before then, though not referring to a whole continent, but rather originally just the name for the land on the east bank of the Aegean Sea, and then later the Anatolia (part of modern Turkey).
Romans referred to two provinces when talking about Asia: Asia Minor and Asia Major. A common theory is that the Greek name ultimately derived from the Phoenician word asu, which means “east”, and the Akkadian word asu which means “to go out, to rise.” In reference to the sun, Asia would then mean “the land of the sunrise.”
- The name Europe comes from the Latin Europa, which in turn derives from the Greek, from εὐρύς eurys “wide” and ὤψ ops “face” (PIE *wer-, “broad” *okw-, “eye”).