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California

[kal-uh-fawrn-yuh, -fawr-nee-uh]
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noun
  1. a state in the W United States, on the Pacific coast. 158,693 sq. mi. (411,015 sq. km). Capital: Sacramento. Abbreviation: CA (for use with zip code), Cal., Calif.
  2. Gulf of, an arm of the Pacific Ocean, extending NW between the coast of W Mexico and the peninsula of Baja California. About 750 miles (1207 km) long; 62,600 sq. mi. (162,100 sq. km).
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Related formsCal·i·for·nian, adjective, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for california

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • To Linda it was almost a miracle, the rapidity with which a house could be erected in California.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • It was not very clear whether he had in his mind France or California.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • The tale of the resources of California—vegetable and mineral—is a fairy-tale.

    American Notes

    Rudyard Kipling

  • California had taken my place in the shallows, his fish hard held.

    American Notes

    Rudyard Kipling

  • I'm only from California, but they've got to show me, before I'll believe a word against her.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance


British Dictionary definitions for california

California

noun
  1. a state on the W coast of the US: the third largest state in area and the largest in population; consists of a narrow, warm coastal plain rising to the Coast Range, deserts in the south, the fertile central valleys of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, and the mountains of the Sierra Nevada in the east; major industries include the growing of citrus fruits and grapes, fishing, oil production, electronics, information technology, and films. Capital: Sacramento. Pop: 35 484 453 (2003 est). Area: 411 015 sq km (158 693 sq miles)Abbreviation: Cal., Calif., (with zip code) CA
  2. Gulf of California an arm of the Pacific Ocean, between Sonora and Lower California
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for california

California

name of an imaginary realm in "Las sergas de Esplandián" ("Exploits of Espladán"), a romance by Spanish writer Garci Ordóñez de Montalvo, published in 1510. It was a sequel to his "Amadis de Gaula," and was said to have been influential among Spanish explorers of the New World. It could have led them to misidentify Baja California as this mythical land and to mistake it for an island. The Amadis tales are the Iberian equivalent of the Arthurian romances; they are older than 1510 (traces of them have been found mid-14c.) and were wildly popular. That conquistadors and sailors would have known the story in all its imaginative detail is hardly surprising.

Amadis de Gaula ... set a fashion: all later Spanish writers of books of chivalry adopted the machinery of Amadis de Gaula. Later knights were not less brave (they could not be braver than) Amadis; heroines were not less lovely (they could not be lovelier) than Oriana; there was nothing for it but to make the dragons more appalling, the giants larger, the wizards craftier, the magic castles more inaccessible, the enchanted lakes deeper. Subsequent books of chivalry are simple variants of the types in Amadis de Gaula: Cervantes made his barber describe it as 'the best of all books of this kind.' This verdict is essentially just. Amadis de Gaula was read everywhere, especially in the French version of Herberay des Essarts. It was done into Hebrew during the sixteenth century, and attracted readers as different as St Ignatius of Loyola and Henry of Navarre. Its vogue perhaps somewhat exceeded its merit, but its merits are not inconsiderable. [James Fitzmaurice-Kelly, "Spanish Literature," 1922 edition]

Where Montalvo got the name and what it means, if anything, is a mystery. Californian is attested from 1785. The element Californium (1950) was named in reference to University of California, where it was discovered.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

california in Culture

California

State in the Far West bordered by Oregon to the north; Nevada and Arizona to the east; Baja California, Mexico, to the south; and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Its capital is Sacramento, and its largest city is Los Angeles.

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Note

During the California gold rush tens of thousands of people poured into California in search of gold. It is sometimes called the “Golden State.” (See forty-niners.)

Note

California is the most populous state. It is known for its earthquakes, high-tech (see also high-tech) industries (see Silicon Valley), and agriculture.

Note

The state is famous for all the fads and ideas that originate there, many of which are considered strange or eccentric.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.