Welcome to our list of things that are American!
In our list we’ve included as many categories of things we could think of as possible! We hope we’ve covered what you’re after in our list of things that are American.
Here’s a visual list of things that are American:
Hopefully that visual list of American things was useful! If you’re interested in learning more about America and American culture, here’s a longer and more informative list of things that are American, separated into handy categories:
This is just a snapshot of the diverse culinary landscape of the United States. Each region and cultural group has contributed to what is considered “American” food.
- Hamburger: Ground beef patty usually served in a bun with toppings such as lettuce, tomato, onions, and condiments. Originated in Germany but popularized in the US.
- Hot Dogs: A cooked sausage, traditionally made from beef or pork, served in a sliced bun with condiments like mustard, ketchup, onions, and relish.
- Apple Pie: A fruit pie with a filling made from apples, sugar, and spices. Often considered a quintessential American dessert.
- BBQ Ribs: Slow-cooked pork or beef ribs, slathered in a savory barbecue sauce. Popular in Southern states, but variations exist across the country.
- Macaroni and Cheese: Pasta in a creamy cheese sauce, often baked until it has a crispy top. Can be found in most American households.
- Fried Chicken: Chicken pieces, coated in seasoned flour or batter and deep-fried until crispy. Particularly associated with the Southern US.
- Cornbread: A type of bread made from cornmeal, often sweetened slightly and baked until golden.
- Clam Chowder: A creamy soup made from clams, potatoes, onions, and celery. Especially associated with the New England region.
- Pancakes: Fluffy, flat cakes made from a batter and cooked on a griddle. Typically served with syrup and butter for breakfast.
- Pizza (American Styles like New York and Chicago deep-dish): Flatbread with various toppings like cheese, meats, and vegetables. Regional variations include the thin-crust New York style and the thick, pie-like Chicago deep-dish.
- Bagel: A dense, ring-shaped bread, often topped with seeds or grains. Popular for breakfast and often served with cream cheese.
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich: A sandwich made with peanut butter and fruit jam or jelly. A staple in many American children’s lunches.
- Buffalo Wings: Chicken wings that are deep-fried and then coated in a spicy sauce. Originated in Buffalo, New York.
- Jambalaya: A spicy rice dish with meat (such as chicken or sausage) and vegetables. Rooted in Louisiana Creole cuisine.
- Biscuits and Gravy: Soft biscuits smothered in creamy sausage gravy. A beloved Southern breakfast dish.
- Cobb Salad: A salad with chopped greens, chicken, bacon, eggs, avocado, cheese, and tomatoes. Named after its inventor, Robert Cobb.
- Meatloaf: Ground meat mixed with breadcrumbs, eggs, and seasonings, shaped into a loaf and baked. Often served with ketchup or gravy.
- Grits: Ground corn, boiled in milk or water, often eaten with butter, cheese, or shrimp. A staple in the Southern US.
- Twinkies: A golden sponge cake filled with creamy filling. A popular packaged snack.
- Reuben Sandwich: Corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, grilled between slices of rye bread.
- Sloppy Joes: Ground beef or pork, onions, and seasoned tomato sauce, served on a bun. A quick and messy sandwich favorite.
- Chili: A spicy stew containing meat, usually beef, and beans. Variations exist, such as Texas chili which omits beans.
- Cheesesteak: Thinly sliced pieces of steak and melted cheese in a long hoagie roll. Originated in Philadelphia.
- Gumbo: A stew originating from Louisiana, typically made with a mixture of chicken, sausage, and/or seafood, thickened with okra or file powder.
- Corn Dogs: A sausage coated in a thick layer of cornmeal batter and deep-fried.
- Potato Salad: Cooked potatoes mixed with mayonnaise, mustard, eggs, and various seasonings. A popular side dish for picnics and barbecues.
- Lobster Roll: Chunks of lobster meat, mixed with mayonnaise and served on a buttered, toasted bun. A delicacy in the New England region.
- Pop Tarts: A brand of toaster pastries with sweet fillings and icing. A common breakfast or snack item.
- Boston Baked Beans: Beans slow-cooked with molasses or brown sugar and bacon or salt pork.
- Coleslaw: Shredded cabbage mixed with mayonnaise or vinegar dressing. Served as a side dish or on sandwiches.
- Frito Pie: A dish made with chili, cheese, and Fritos corn chips.
- Po’ boy: A traditional sandwich from Louisiana, typically consisting of fried seafood or roast beef on a French roll.
- Biscuits: Soft, flaky breads often served with butter or jam. Not to be confused with the European biscuit, which is akin to an American cookie.
- Brownies: A type of dense chocolate cake slice, often containing nuts or chocolate chips.
- Tater Tots: Grated potatoes formed into small cylinders and deep-fried. A popular side dish.
- Chicken Fried Steak: A piece of beefsteak coated with seasoned flour and pan-fried. Served with gravy.
- Pumpkin Pie: A sweet dessert pie with a spiced pumpkin filling. Especially popular during Thanksgiving.
- Crawfish Boil: An event where crawfish, along with corn and potatoes, are boiled in a large pot with seasoning. Common in the South, especially Louisiana.
- BLT: A sandwich made from bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Typically served on toasted bread with mayonnaise.
- Root Beer Float: A beverage made by adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream to root beer.
The U.S. has a rich beverage history with a mix of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, many of which have become famous globally.
- Coca-Cola: A carbonated soft drink that originated in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s one of the world’s most recognizable and best-selling beverages.
- Root Beer: A sweet carbonated beverage made using sassafras root or other flavorings.
- Iced Tea: Cold tea that’s typically sweetened, especially popular in the Southern U.S., where it’s often called “sweet tea.”
- Lemonade: A drink made from lemon juice, sugar, and water. Variations include pink lemonade and sparkling lemonade.
- Arnold Palmer: A beverage mix of iced tea and lemonade, named after the famous golfer.
- Mint Julep: A cocktail made from bourbon, mint, sugar, and water. It’s associated with the southern U.S. and the Kentucky Derby.
- Bourbon: A type of American whiskey distilled primarily from corn and aged in new charred oak barrels.
- Jack and Coke: A mix of Jack Daniel’s whiskey and Coca-Cola.
- Bloody Mary: A cocktail made from vodka, tomato juice, and various spices and flavorings.
- Eggnog: A creamy beverage made with milk, sugar, whipped eggs, and often spiked with spirits like rum or brandy. Popular during the Christmas season.
- Manhattan: A cocktail made from whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters.
- Old Fashioned: A cocktail made with sugar, bitters, alcohol (usually bourbon or rye whiskey), and a twist of citrus rind.
- Milkshake: A cold beverage made from milk, ice cream, and flavorings or sweeteners such as fruit syrup or chocolate.
- Dr Pepper: A unique carbonated soft drink created in the late 19th century.
- Martini: A cocktail made with gin or vodka and dry vermouth, often garnished with an olive or a lemon twist.
- Cosmopolitan: A cocktail made with vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and freshly squeezed lime juice.
- Tequila Sunrise: A cocktail made of tequila, orange juice, and grenadine syrup.
- Long Island Iced Tea: Despite its name, it contains no tea. It’s a mix of vodka, tequila, rum, gin, triple sec, lemon juice, simple syrup, and cola.
- Mai Tai: A cocktail made with rum, lime juice, and other flavorings. Though it has Polynesian flair, it was invented in the U.S.
- Daiquiri: A cocktail made from rum, citrus juice (usually lime), and sugar.
- Mojito: A cocktail made with white rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water, and mint.
- Blue Moon: An American craft beer, a Belgian-style witbier brewed with Valencia orange peel.
- Sarsaparilla: A soft drink originally made from the sarsaparilla vine or other plants, similar in flavor to root beer.
- Mountain Dew: A citrus-flavored carbonated soft drink.
- Club Soda: Carbonated water, often used as a mixer in cocktails.
- Sprite/7UP: Lemon-lime flavored soft drinks.
- Margarita: A cocktail made with tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau or triple sec, often served in a glass rimmed with salt.
- Moscow Mule: A cocktail made with vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice, garnished with a slice or wedge of lime.
This list represents just a fraction of the diverse fauna native to or associated with the U.S., spanning a range of habitats from coast to coast.
- Bald Eagle: The national bird of the United States. This majestic bird of prey is known for its striking white head and tail against a brown body. It can be found throughout most of North America near large bodies of open water.
- American Bison: Often called buffalo, these massive, shaggy beasts once roamed the grasslands of North America in vast herds. They’re considered a symbol of the American West and have recently made a conservation comeback.
- Grizzly Bear: A subspecies of the brown bear, the grizzly is an iconic symbol of the American wilderness, particularly in the Northern Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest.
- California Condor: One of the world’s most endangered birds, this vulture species has a wingspan that can exceed 9 feet. It’s native to the mountainous regions of California and the Southwest.
- American Alligator: Primarily found in the Southeast, especially in states like Florida and Louisiana, this reptile often inhabits freshwater swamps and marshes.
- American Black Bear: The most widespread bear species in North America, these omnivores can be found in forests, swamps, and other wilderness areas.
- Eastern Gray Squirrel: Commonly seen in Eastern U.S. woodlands and urban areas, these squirrels have bushy tails and are known for their acrobatic feats.
- Coyote: Originally a primarily western species, coyotes have expanded their range across the continent. They’re versatile and can thrive in various habitats, including urban areas.
- Cougar: Also known as the mountain lion, puma, or catamount, this large cat can be found from the mountains of the West to the Florida swamps.
- Prairie Dog: Native to the grasslands of the central and western U.S., these social rodents live in extensive burrow systems and are known for their alert, upright stance.
- Red Fox: Widely distributed across the U.S., the red fox is recognized by its reddish coat, white underbelly, and bushy tail with a white tip.
- American Beaver: Known for their dam-building skills, beavers are semi-aquatic rodents that play a crucial role in creating wetland habitats.
- White-tailed Deer: The most widespread deer species in the U.S., they’re found from southern Canada to Central America and from forests to grasslands.
- Moose: The largest member of the deer family, moose are commonly found in the forests of the northern U.S., especially in areas with cold winters.
- Raccoon: Recognized by its bandit-like face mask and ringed tail, raccoons are adaptable creatures found in a variety of habitats, including urban areas.
- Opossum: North America’s only marsupial, opossums have a prehensile tail and are known for “playing possum” or feigning death when threatened.
- North American River Otter: Sleek and playful, these otters are found in a variety of aquatic habitats across the U.S.
- Bobcat: A medium-sized wildcat with a short tail, tufted ears, and a spotted coat, bobcats are adaptable predators found throughout the U.S.
- American Red Wolf: Once nearly extinct, this canid species is now being reintroduced in parts of the southeastern U.S.
- Desert Tortoise: Native to the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts, these tortoises have a high-domed shell and can live in burrows to escape the desert heat.
- Monarch Butterfly: Known for their incredible migratory journey between North America and Mexico, these butterflies are easily recognized by their vibrant orange and black wings.
- Bald Cypress: While not an animal, this iconic tree species grows in the swampy regions of the southeastern U.S. and is known for its “knees” that protrude from the water.
The United States boasts a rich botanical diversity due to its vast size and range of ecological zones. Here’s a list of notable American plants, both endemic and iconic.
- Giant Sequoia: Native to California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, these are some of the world’s largest and oldest trees.
- Saguaro Cactus: Iconic to the Sonoran Desert, this tall cactus can live for 150+ years and grow arms as it ages.
- Bluebonnet: The state flower of Texas, it carpets fields in a brilliant blue hue during spring.
- Black-eyed Susan: A bright yellow-petaled flower with a dark center, commonly found in the Eastern and Central U.S.
- Joshua Tree: Unique to the Mojave Desert, it’s known for its spikey appearance and is actually a species of yucca.
- Venus Flytrap: Native only to a small area in the Carolinas, this carnivorous plant captures and digests insects.
- White Oak: A widespread deciduous tree that’s important for timber and as habitat for many wildlife species.
- Sunflower: Native to the Central U.S., it’s grown both for its beauty and its seeds.
- Creeping Jenny: A low-growing perennial plant with bright yellow flowers, often used as a ground cover.
- Bristlecone Pine: Some of the world’s oldest living organisms, these trees can be found in the Western U.S. mountain ranges.
- Lodgepole Pine: Common in the Western U.S., its cones can require fire to open and release seeds.
- Switchgrass: A native prairie grass, now being researched as a biofuel source.
- Sugar Maple: Found in the Northeast, its sap is used to produce maple syrup.
- Longleaf Pine: Once dominant in the American Southeast, efforts are being made to restore its ecosystems.
- Pacific Yew: Native to the Pacific Northwest, its bark was the original source of the cancer drug Taxol.
- Cranberry: Grown in bogs in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, they’re a staple for American Thanksgiving.
- American Ginseng: Native to hardwood forests in the Midwest and East, it’s harvested for its medicinal root.
- Ponderosa Pine: A dominant tree species in the Western U.S., known for its tall stature and unique bark scent.
- Indian Paintbrush: A wildflower native to the West, it’s known for its bright red-orange bracts.
- Eastern Hemlock: Found in the Appalachian region, it’s under threat from the invasive woolly adelgid.
- Fireweed: A vibrant pink flower that quickly colonizes areas after a fire, common in the Northern U.S. and Alaska.
- Live Oak: Native to the Southeast, it’s known for its longevity and broad, sprawling canopy.
- Redbud: A tree that’s native to the East, it produces beautiful pink blossoms in early spring.
- Sassafras: Found in the Eastern U.S., its roots were traditionally used to make root beer.
- Prickly Pear Cactus: Found throughout the U.S., especially the Southwest, it produces edible fruit.
- Dogwood: An understory tree common in the East, recognized by its spring blossoms and red berries in the fall.
Sports and Activities
The diverse landscapes and cultural fabric of the U.S. have given rise to a multitude of sports and recreational activities enjoyed by millions, both as participants and spectators.
- American Football: Originated in the U.S., it’s a team sport where two teams compete to advance an oval ball down the field to score points via touchdowns or field goals. The NFL’s Super Bowl is one of the most-watched sporting events globally.
- Baseball: Known as “America’s pastime”, it’s a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. Major League Baseball (MLB) is the premier professional league.
- Basketball: Invented by Dr. James Naismith in 1891, it’s a sport where two teams compete to shoot a ball through the opposing team’s hoop. The NBA is the top professional league.
- NASCAR Racing: An auto racing sport known for its stock cars and oval tracks, it has a substantial fan base, especially in the South.
- Rodeo: Derived from the Spanish “rodear” (to encircle), it involves a range of events including bull riding, bronc riding, and steer wrestling, celebrating cowboy traditions.
- Surfing: Popular along the coasts, especially in California and Hawaii, participants ride on the forward face of moving waves.
- Skateboarding: Originating in the 1950s in California, it’s a sport of riding and performing tricks using a skateboard. Skate culture has had a broad influence on American fashion, music, and film.
- Golf: While not exclusively American, the U.S. hosts several major tournaments and has produced numerous world-class golfers.
- Tennis: The U.S. Open is one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, attracting top players from around the world.
- Lacrosse: Originally played by indigenous tribes, it involves passing, catching, and shooting a ball using a long-handled stick.
- Ultimate Frisbee: A non-contact team sport played with a flying disc. Teams score points by catching the disc in the opposing team’s end zone.
- Rock Climbing: The U.S. offers diverse climbing terrains from the granite walls of Yosemite to the sandstone cliffs of Utah.
- Hiking: The U.S. boasts vast expanses of wilderness and trails, including the renowned Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails.
- Snowboarding: Popular in mountainous regions, participants descend snow-covered slopes on a board attached to their feet.
- Marathon Running: Events like the Boston Marathon have deep historical roots and attract runners from around the world.
- Skiing: Alpine (downhill) and Nordic (cross-country) skiing are popular, especially in states like Colorado and Vermont.
- Beach Volleyball: Originating in Southern California, it’s played on sand between teams of two using a slightly larger ball than indoor volleyball.
- Bowling: A recreational and competitive sport where players roll balls to knock down pins arranged in a triangular pattern.
- Roller Derby: A contact sport played on roller skates where teams of five members skate counter-clockwise around a track.
- MMA (Mixed Martial Arts): A full-contact combat sport that allows striking and grappling, incorporating techniques from various combat sports and martial arts.
- Cheerleading: Originating as an activity to support college sports teams, it has evolved into a competitive sport involving complex acrobatics and dance routines.
Tourist Sites and Attractions
The United States is home to a vast array of tourist sites and attractions. Here’s a list that covers a mix of natural wonders, historical sites, and cultural landmarks:
- Grand Canyon: Located in Arizona, this iconic natural wonder is a vast gorge carved by the Colorado River, known for its immense size and its intricate and colorful landscape.
- Statue of Liberty: A symbol of freedom and democracy, this colossal neoclassical sculpture stands on Liberty Island in New York Harbor.
- Yellowstone National Park: Located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, it’s the first national park in the world, renowned for its geothermal features and diverse wildlife.
- Mount Rushmore: Found in South Dakota, this massive sculpture features the carved faces of four U.S. presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln.
- Disney World: Located in Florida, it’s a vast entertainment complex with multiple theme parks, including the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
- Times Square: Situated in New York City, it’s known for its bright lights, Broadway theaters, and the annual New Year’s Eve ball drop.
- The National Mall: Located in Washington, D.C., it’s a green expanse home to iconic monuments like the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol.
- Golden Gate Bridge: An iconic suspension bridge in San Francisco known for its Art Deco design and orange-red color.
- Niagara Falls: Located on the border of New York and Ontario, Canada, these massive waterfalls are a sight to behold and a major natural attraction.
- Hollywood: Situated in Los Angeles, California, it’s the entertainment capital known for the Hollywood sign, Walk of Fame, and movie studios.
- Waikiki Beach: Located in Honolulu, Hawaii, it’s a popular beachfront neighborhood known for its crescent-shaped beach and surfing history.
- French Quarter: Found in New Orleans, it’s famous for its historic architecture, vibrant nightlife, and annual Mardi Gras celebrations.
- Alamo: Located in San Antonio, Texas, it’s a historic Spanish mission and fortress, remembered for the 1836 battle during the Texas Revolution.
- Space Needle: An observation tower in Seattle, Washington, it provides panoramic views of the downtown skyline, Mount Rainier, and Puget Sound.
- Route 66: A historic highway running from Chicago to Santa Monica, known as the “Main Street of America” or “Mother Road.”
- Mall of America: Situated in Minnesota, it’s one of the world’s largest shopping malls, complete with an indoor amusement park.
- Everglades National Park: Located in Florida, it’s the largest tropical wilderness of any U.S. National Park, known for its unique ecosystem and wildlife, including alligators.
- Gateway Arch: Found in St. Louis, Missouri, this iconic arch is a symbol of westward expansion in the U.S.
- Savannah Historic District: Located in Georgia, it offers cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and moss-draped oaks.
- Napa Valley: Situated in California, it’s one of the premier wine regions in the world, known for its vineyard-covered hills and wine tours.
- Pearl Harbor: Located in Hawaii, it’s a historic harbor where the 1941 attack took place, leading to the U.S. entering WWII. The USS Arizona Memorial is a key site here.
- Independence Hall: Located in Philadelphia, it’s the birthplace of the United States, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed.
- Bryce Canyon National Park: Found in Utah, it’s known for its unique geology, including a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters and red limestone spires called “hoodoos.”
While many musical instruments played in the United States have roots in other cultures and countries, there are several that have been developed or uniquely popularized in the U.S. Here’s a list of some of those instruments, complete with descriptions.
- Banjo: Originating from instruments brought by enslaved Africans, the banjo underwent several modifications in the U.S. It’s a stringed instrument characterized by a thin membrane stretched over a frame, giving it a distinct twangy and bright sound. It plays a significant role in bluegrass, folk, and country music.
- Steel Guitar: This instrument evolved from the guitar but is played horizontally, either in the player’s lap or on legs. It’s played with a metal bar or slide, producing a smooth, gliding sound. The steel guitar, especially the pedal steel variation, is a staple in country music.
- Resonator Guitar: Also known as the Dobro, it’s a guitar with a metal resonator built into its body. This design amplifies the sound, giving it a louder, sharper tone compared to traditional acoustic guitars. It’s popular in blues, bluegrass, and country music.
- Washboard: Originating from a household item used for washing clothes, the washboard became an instrument in jug bands and skiffle groups. Players use thimbles or their fingers to produce rhythm by scraping or tapping the washboard’s ridged surface.
- Jug: An actual jug, often ceramic or glass, is blown into to produce bass notes. It became central to “jug bands,” especially in the early 20th-century South, creating a unique rhythmic and drone accompaniment.
- Harmonica: While it originated in Europe, the harmonica found a particular home in American blues, folk, and rock. It’s a small, handheld reed instrument played by blowing or drawing air through it. The diatonic harmonica, used in blues, is played in a “cross-harp” or “second position” style to achieve the bluesy bends and warbles.
- Synthesizer: Although not exclusive to America, Robert Moog’s development of the Moog synthesizer in the 1960s revolutionized music worldwide. This electronic musical instrument generates audio signals, which are then converted into sound. Its versatility transformed numerous genres, from rock and pop to electronica and beyond.
- Electric Guitar: While the concept of amplifying a guitar predates the U.S. inventions, the modern design and popularization of the electric guitar, especially by brands like Gibson and Fender, deeply influenced rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, blues, and more. It uses pickups to convert string vibrations into electrical signals, which are then amplified.
- Turntable: As hip-hop emerged in the Bronx in the 1970s, DJs began using turntables not just for playing records but as an instrument. By manipulating vinyl records on turntables, they could create new rhythms, beats, and sounds, leading to the art of turntablism.
- Autoharp: A stringed instrument, the autoharp features a series of chord bars attached to dampers. When a chord bar is pressed, it mutes all the strings other than those that form the desired chord. It’s found in folk music and was popularized by artists like Mother Maybelle Carter.
- Theremin: Invented by Léon Theremin, a Russian, but popularized and commercialized in the U.S., this early electronic instrument is played without physical contact. Players move their hands near two antennas, controlling pitch and volume. It produces an eerie sound, often associated with old science fiction movies.
The United States has produced countless notable individuals across a variety of fields. Here’s a list spanning multiple domains, with each description delving into their contributions:
- George Washington: The first President of the United States (1789-1797) and a founding father. He led the American forces to victory in the Revolutionary War, presided over the Constitutional Convention, and set many presidential precedents.
- Abraham Lincoln: The 16th U.S. President (1861-1865), best known for leading the country during the Civil War, issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, and delivering the Gettysburg Address. His leadership preserved the Union and abolished slavery.
- Martin Luther King Jr.: A pivotal leader in the American civil rights movement. His nonviolent protests and eloquent speeches, including “I Have a Dream,” played a vital role in ending legal segregation of African-American citizens.
- Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens): An iconic author and humorist known for works such as “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” His writings provide insight into 19th-century American society and its regional dialects.
- Harriet Tubman: Born into slavery, she escaped and then made several missions to rescue enslaved people using the Underground Railroad. Later, she became a Union spy during the Civil War and advocated for women’s suffrage.
- Thomas Edison: An inventor and businessman, holding over 1,000 patents. His innovations include the phonograph, electric light bulb, and motion picture camera. He also founded General Electric.
- Rosa Parks: An African-American civil rights activist, her refusal to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger triggered the Montgomery Bus Boycott, marking the beginning of a mass protest against segregation.
- Albert Einstein: Though born in Germany, he moved to the U.S. in 1933. A theoretical physicist, he’s best known for the theory of relativity. His equation, E=mc^2, has become synonymous with modern physics.
- Walt Disney: A pioneer in the animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of cartoons and founded Disneyland and Walt Disney World, leaving a lasting impact on entertainment globally.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt: The 32nd U.S. President (1933-1945), he led the nation through the Great Depression and World War II. His New Deal policies aimed to stabilize the economy and provide jobs and relief to those suffering.
- Amelia Earhart: An aviator who became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She remains a symbol of pioneering spirit and perseverance, despite her mysterious disappearance during a flight around the globe.
- Jimi Hendrix: Widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music. His innovative style encompassed a mix of rock, blues, and funk.
- Ella Fitzgerald: Known as the “First Lady of Song,” she’s celebrated for her remarkable vocal range and improvisational ability. A major figure in jazz, her collaborations include works with Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.
- Steve Jobs: Co-founder of Apple Inc., he revolutionized several industries, from computing and animated movies to music, phones, and tablet computing with products like the iPhone and iPad.
- Cesar Chavez: A labor leader and civil rights activist, he co-founded the United Farm Workers association. He’s best known for his efforts to gain better working conditions for farm workers in California.
- Maya Angelou: A multi-talented writer, poet, and civil rights activist, she’s best known for her autobiographical series, which began with “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”
- Billie Holiday: One of the greatest jazz voices of all time, her deeply emotive singing tackled complex social issues, notably in songs like “Strange Fruit.”
- Neil Armstrong: An astronaut and the first person to walk on the Moon during NASA’s Apollo 11 mission in 1969. His famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” capture the historic moment.
- Oprah Winfrey: A media mogul, actress, and philanthropist, she’s best known for her talk show, which became the highest-rated program of its kind. Winfrey has been called the most influential woman in the world.
- Sylvia Rivera: A Latina American gay liberation and transgender rights activist, she was a founding member of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. Rivera played a significant role in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.
These inventions, along with countless others, underscore America’s role as a hub for technological and scientific advancement.
- Cotton Gin: Invented by Eli Whitney in 1793, this machine revolutionized the cotton industry by making the process of separating cotton fibers from seeds efficient. While it bolstered the cotton industry, it also had the unintended consequence of reinvigorating the institution of slavery in the South.
- Morse Code & Telegraph: Developed by Samuel Morse in the 1830s and 1840s, the telegraph system and the Morse code facilitated long-distance communication, transforming news dissemination, business, and personal communications.
- Light Bulb: Although the basic concept wasn’t solely Thomas Edison’s invention, his practical and commercializable version of the incandescent light bulb in 1879 brought electric illumination to homes and businesses, replacing candles and oil lamps.
- Assembly Line: Popularized by Henry Ford in the early 20th century for automobile manufacturing, this method of sequential production drastically reduced production times, making goods, especially cars, more affordable and available.
- Airplane: The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, achieved the first powered, sustained, and controlled airplane flight in 1903. Their invention transformed transportation and commerce and paved the way for the modern aviation industry.
- Transistor: Invented in 1947 by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley at Bell Labs, the transistor miniaturized and revolutionized the electronics industry, leading to the modern computer age.
- Integrated Circuit: Developed independently by Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce in the late 1950s, this compact assembly of electronic components paved the way for miniaturized electronics and the rise of the computer industry.
- Internet: While a collective endeavor, the foundational technology behind the internet was developed in the 1960s and 1970s by American computer scientists, most notably the ARPANET project funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.
- Laser: The concept of the laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) was first described by Charles Townes and Arthur Schawlow in the late 1950s. Lasers have since become crucial in various fields, from medicine and telecommunications to entertainment.
- Space Shuttle: Developed by NASA in the 1970s and first launched in 1981, the reusable space shuttle was a significant advancement in space exploration, allowing multiple missions using the same spacecraft.
- Barcode: Invented in 1952 by Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver, the barcode system revolutionized retail and other industries by allowing for rapid product identification and inventory management.
- Kevlar: Developed by Stephanie Kwolek at DuPont in 1965, this high-strength material has been used in various products, from bulletproof vests to sports equipment, due to its strong yet lightweight properties.
- Email: Developed by Ray Tomlinson in 1971, email transformed communication, allowing for near-instant written exchanges over vast distances, paving the way for the digital communication age.
- Mobile Phone: The first mobile phone was invented by Martin Cooper in 1973 while at Motorola. It transformed telecommunications, leading to the globally connected world we live in today.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): While building on global research, Dr. Raymond Damadian, an American physician and scientist, was crucial in proposing and developing MRI’s utility in medical diagnostics in the 1970s.
- GPS (Global Positioning System): Initially created in the 1970s by the U.S. Department of Defense for military navigation, it was later made available for civilian use. Today, GPS is essential for navigation, mapping, and numerous other applications.
- Personal Computer: The concept of an individual, user-friendly computer for consumers was pioneered by companies like Apple (Apple I in 1976) and IBM (IBM PC in 1981), democratizing computing.
- Voice Mail: Invented by Stephen J. Boies in 1979 while at IBM, voice mail systems transformed telecommunication, allowing users to leave and retrieve spoken messages.
The United States has been a powerhouse of entertainment, producing influential songs, TV shows, games, and other forms of entertainment. Here’s a list covering various facets of American entertainment, including songs, shows and games:
- “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie: Written in 1940, this folk song reflects Guthrie’s socio-political views and his love for America’s landscapes, often considered an alternative national anthem.
- “Respect” by Aretha Franklin: Originally by Otis Redding, Aretha’s 1967 version became an anthem of empowerment, particularly for women and the civil rights movement.
- “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson: From the 1982 “Thriller” album, this track showcases Jackson’s pop influence with its distinct bassline and timeless message.
- “I Love Lucy” (1951-1957): A groundbreaking sitcom starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz that portrayed an interracial couple, challenging television norms of its era.
- “The Twilight Zone” (1959-1964): Created by Rod Serling, this anthology series offers tales of science fiction and horror, often reflecting societal issues.
- “The Simpsons” (1989-present): An animated sitcom by Matt Groening, it satirizes American culture and society and has become a cultural mainstay.
- Monopoly: Stemming from “The Landlord’s Game” by Elizabeth Magie, the version we recognize was popularized during the Great Depression, emphasizing property trading and market domination.
- Atari 2600: Launched in 1977, this was among the first successful home video game consoles, setting the stage for the gaming industry.
- World of Warcraft: A 2004 MMORPG by Blizzard Entertainment, it significantly impacted the gaming world and culture.
- “Superman” Comic Books: Superman, the brainchild of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, debuted in “Action Comics” #1 in 1938, pioneering the superhero genre.
- Star Wars Franchise: George Lucas’s creation, starting with a 1977 film, redefined cinema and introduced a cultural phenomenon with its universe of characters and stories.
- “Hamilton” Broadway Musical: Debuting in 2015 and created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Hamilton” blended hip-hop with historical narrative, innovating musical theater.
- Woodstock Festival: A 1969 music festival epitomizing the counterculture of the 1960s, with iconic performances from artists like Jimi Hendrix.
- Comic-Con International: Beginning in San Diego in 1970, this convention celebrates comic books, science fiction, and popular culture, growing to become a major event for industry and fans alike.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to American slang. Many terms originate in specific regions, cultures, or subcultures and later become adopted more widely, especially with the advent of social media.
- Bail: To leave abruptly. “I’ve got to bail; I’m running late.”
- Beef: A disagreement or argument. “They’ve got beef with each other.”
- Binge-watch: Watching multiple episodes of a TV show in a row. “I spent the weekend binge-watching ‘Stranger Things.'”
- Boo: A term of endearment for a loved one or romantic partner. “Hey, boo!”
- Chill: To relax. It can also mean cool or okay. “Just chill for a minute.”
- Dope: Cool or awesome. “That new song is dope!”
- FOMO: Acronym for “Fear Of Missing Out”, describing the fear of not being included in something fun or interesting.
- Ghost: To suddenly stop all communication with someone, especially in a dating context. “He ghosted me after two dates.”
- Hella: A lot or very. Predominantly used in Northern California. “I’m hella tired.”
- Lit: Something that’s really good or exciting. “This party is lit!”
- Lowkey: To be discreet or quiet about something. “I lowkey love cheesy music.”
- On fleek: Extremely good, attractive, or stylish. “Her eyebrows are on fleek.”
- Salty: Being bitter or angry. “Why are you so salty today?”
- Shade: Disrespect or discreet criticism. “No shade, but that’s not your color.”
- Slay: To do something exceptionally well. “She slays every time she’s on stage.”
- Thirsty: Eager or desperate for attention. “He’s just thirsty for likes on his post.”
- Throw shade: To subtly express disapproval or contempt. “She’s always throwing shade at her coworkers.”
- Vibe: A feeling or atmosphere. “I’m getting a good vibe from this place.”
- YOLO: Acronym for “You Only Live Once”, urging people to make the most of the present moment without worrying about the future.
- Zoned out: Lost in thought or daydreaming, not paying attention.
We hope this list of American things was useful and that you found what you needed!
We did our best to cover all of the varied meanings of “American” with our visual gallery of American things and descriptive list. But if you feel there’s something we missed, please feel free to let us know and leave a comment.
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