[pan-uh-mah, -maw]
  1. a republic in S Central America. 28,575 sq. mi. (74,010 sq. km).
  2. Also called Panama City. a city in and the capital of Panama, at the Pacific end of the Panama Canal.
  3. Isthmus of. Formerly Isthmus of Darien. an isthmus between North and South America.
  4. Gulf of, the portion of the Pacific in the bend of the Isthmus of Panama.
  5. (sometimes lowercase) Panama hat.
Also Pa·na·má [Spanish pah-nah-mah] /Spanish ˌpɑ nɑˈmɑ/ (for defs 1, 2).
Related formsPan·a·ma·ni·an [pan-uh-mey-nee-uh n, -mah-] /ˌpæn əˈmeɪ ni ən, -ˈmɑ-/, adjective, nounPan·am·ic [pa-nam-ik] /pæˈnæm ɪk/, adjectivepro-Pan·a·ma, adjectivepro-Pan·a·ma·ni·an, adjective, nounpseu·do-Pan·a·ma·ni·an, adjective, nountrans-Pan·a·ma·ni·an, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for panama

Contemporary Examples of panama

Historical Examples of panama

  • Mr. Jenkins, the grocer, rented a cutaway, and bought a new Panama to wear with it.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • I returned stoutly; for I had, of course, sunk the Isthmus of Panama beneath the sea.

    Green Mansions

    W. H. Hudson

  • This stronghold Morgan must have if he ever hoped to win Panama.

  • Then he took a handkerchief from his pocket, removed his panama and mopped his forehead.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • From there he went to the eastern border of Panama with a party of gold seekers.

    Introductory American History

    Henry Eldridge Bourne

British Dictionary definitions for panama


  1. a republic in Central America, occupying the Isthmus of Panama: gained independence from Spain in 1821 and joined Greater Colombia; became independent in 1903, with the immediate area around the canal forming the Canal Zone under US jurisdiction; Panama assumed sovereignty over the Canal Zone in 1979 and full control in 1999. Official language: Spanish; English is also widely spoken. Religion: Roman Catholic majority. Currency: balboa. Capital: Panama City. Pop: 3 559 408 (2013 est). Area: 75 650 sq km (29 201 sq miles)
  2. Isthmus of Panama an isthmus linking North and South America, between the Pacific and the Caribbean. Length: 676 km (420 miles). Width (at its narrowest point): 50 km (31 miles)Former name: Darien, Isthmus of Darien
  3. Gulf of Panama a wide inlet of the Pacific in Panama
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 panama


probably from an unknown Guarani word, traditionally said to mean "place of many fish." Originally the name of the settlement founded 1519 (destroyed 1671 but subsequently rebuilt). Panama hat, made from the leaves of the screw pine, attested from 1833, a misnomer, because it originally was made in Ecuador, but perhaps so called in American English because it was distributed north from Panama City. Panama red as a variety of Central American marijuana is attested from 1967.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

panama in Culture


Republic on the Isthmus of Panama, which connects Central America and South America, bordered by Costa Rica to the west, and Colombia to the east. Its capital and largest city is Panama City.


Backed by the United States, which wanted to negotiate a treaty to build a canal connecting the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean, Panama revolted against Colombia, of which it was a part, and declared itself independent in 1903.


The United States built the Panama Canal from 1904 to 1914, and American relations with Panama long were shaped by the U.S. presence in the Canal Zone, which divides the country.


In 1989, the United States invaded Panama and forcibly removed its leader, Manuel Noriega, to the United States, where he was tried and convicted for drug trafficking. (See also Panama Canal.)
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.