I always hesitate when spelling South Carolina’s capital or the South American country bordering Panama. Is it Columbia or Colombia?
The U.S. city is spelled with a u. Columbia is a poetic, 18th-century
term used for the United States and is depicted as a female. Though the term fell out of favor as the personification of the United
States, it pops up across the country today, from the nation’s capital to a
river in the Pacific Northwest, from an Ivy League school in New York to a film
studio in California. Heck, it is even part of the nomenclature of a recording
label, a line of sportswear and a space shuttle. Columbia is a New Latin term, based on the surname of an explorer
who sailed the ocean blue in 1492. It means “Land of Columbus.”
The country famous for its coffee is spelled with an o. Colombia also derives its name from
Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer. In Spanish, however, his name is
Both the city and the country germinated from the surname of
the same person, but the city is spelled using the root of his anglicized name
(Columbus) rather than its Spanish counterpart (Colón).
In short, sometimes it is spelled Columbia, and sometimes it is spelled Colombia. Never, however, is it spelled Cloumbia.