Name and etymology
The description of the country by the word Argentina has been found on a Venetian map in 1536.
In English the name "Argentina" comes from the Spanish language, however the naming itself is not Spanish, but Italian. Argentina (masculine argentino) means in Italian "(made) of silver, silver coloured", probably borrowed from the Old French adjective argentine "(made) of silver" > "silver coloured" already mentioned in the 12th century. The French word argentine is the feminine form of argentin and derives from argent "silver" with the suffix -in (same construction as Old French acerin "(made) of steel", from acier "steel" + -in or sapin "(made) of fir wood", from OF sap "fir" + -in). The Italian naming "Argentina" for the country implies Terra Argentina "land of silver" or Costa Argentina "coast of silver". In Italian, the adjective or the proper noun is often used in an autonomous way as a substantive and replaces it and it is said l'Argentina.
The name Argentina was probably first given by the Venetian and Genoese navigators, such as Giovanni Caboto. In Spanish and Portuguese, the words for "silver" are respectively plata and prata and "(made) of silver" is said plateado and prateado. Argentina was first associated with the silver mountains legend, widespread among the first European explorers of the La Plata Basin.
The first written use of the name in Spanish can be traced to La Argentina,[C] a 1602 poem by Martín del Barco Centenera describing the region.
Although "Argentina" was already in common usage by the 18th century, the country was formally named "Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata" by the Spanish Empire, and "United Provinces of the Río de la Plata" after independence.
The 1826 constitution included the first use of the name "Argentine Republic" in legal documents.
The name "Argentine Confederation" was also commonly used and was formalized in the Argentine Constitution of 1853.
In 1860 a presidential decree settled the country's name as "Argentine Republic", and that year's constitutional amendment ruled all the names since 1810 as legally valid.[D]
In the English language the country was traditionally called "the Argentine", mimicking the typical Spanish usage la Argentina and perhaps resulting from a mistaken shortening of the fuller name 'Argentine Republic'. 'The Argentine' fell out of fashion during the mid-to-late 20th century, and now the country is simply referred to as "Argentina".
In the Spanish language "Argentina" is feminine ("La [República] Argentina"), taking the feminine article "La" as the initial syllable of "Argentina" is unstressed.