An American word pertaining to the fantasied lifestyle of affluent Europeans (esp. France, Italy, Austria), especially in food, attitude and manners. Has nothing to do with actual natives of those countries.

The "Continental" was the nickname for the first series of United States banknotes, issued by the authority of the Continental Congress to finance the American Revolution in the late 1700's. Continental dollars were printed and counterfeited in such bulk that they quickly became almost worthless, much like the reichsmark in the Weimar Republic of Germany. Most people at the time used money printed by state governments or by private banks: incidentally, a similar practice arose in the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.

The rapid depreciation of the Continental's value gave rise to the expression "not worth a Continental," i.e. not worth anything.

Con`ti*nen"tal (?), a.

1.

Of or pertaining to a continent.

2.

Of or pertaining to the main land of Europe, in distinction from the adjacent islands, especially England; as, a continental tour; a continental coalition.

Macaulay.

No former king had involved himself so frequently in the labyrinth of continental alliances.

Hallam.

3. Amer. Hist.

Of or pertaining to the confederated colonies collectively, in the time of the Revolutionary War; as, Continental money.

The army before Boston was designated as the Continental army, in contradistinction to that under General Gage, which was called the "Ministerial army." W. Irving.

Continental Congress. See under Congress. -- Continental system Hist., the blockade of Great Britain ordered by Napoleon by the decree of Berlin, Nov. 21, 1806; the object being to strike a blow at the maritime and commercial supremacy of Great Britain, by cutting her off from all intercourse with the continent of Europe.

 

© Webster 1913.


Con`ti*nen"tal (?), n. Amer. Hist.

A soldier in the Continental army, or a piece of the Continental currency. See Continental, a., 3.

<-- "Not worth a continental." [said of Continental currency after the American revolution] -->

 

© Webster 1913.

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