The word Amazon, common in modern times as the name of a successful on-line retailing organization, has two traditional uses in academic English. The word is always pronounced with the stress on the first syllable, whose vowel is like that in 'hat' and 'am': 'AM-a-zen', IPA: /ˈæm ə zə (or ɒ)n/. (Don't confuse it with 'amazing', 'erm-AIZ-ing', /ər ˈmeɪ zɪŋ). (The online store amazon.com with other branches such as amazon.co.uk, can be a useful place to find books otherwise hard to obtain, but is said to damage the traditional bookshop by its aggressive pricing and great size. It claims to be the biggest in the world, although it only went on-line for the first time in 1995. By 2016, it is the largest retailer in the world.)
- The founder of amazon.com, Jeff Bezos, "settled on "Amazon" [as the name for his company] because it was a place that was "exotic and different" and it was the river he considered the biggest in the world, as he hoped his company would be" (Byers, Ann (2006) Jeff Bezos: the founder of Amazon.com, The Rosen Publishing Group, pp.46-47 [cited wikipedia]).
- The river Amazon is one of the longest rivers in the world (around 4,150 miles, or 6,680 km), and in terms of water flow is the largest river in the world. It drains two-fifths of the continent of South America. The first names given by European explorers to the river were Grande Río ('Great River'), Río Santa María del Mar Dulce ('River of Saint Mary of the sweet [~fresh] water') and Río de la Canela ('Cinnamon River'); it is said that the classically inspired name Amazonas was given by the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain Charles V.
- The name may be derived from the local native Amazanu ('Big Wave' in Tupí-Guaraní) or Amossona, 'Destroyer of Boats' (Everett-Heath, 2010), who adds "It has no connection with the female warriors of Greek mythology, the Amazons, although Spanish explorers brought back tales of fearsome female warriors in the jungle (who were probably men who wore their hair long)"; but the perceived similarity of the native American and the Greek names is as likely to be pure coincidence.
- The river Amazon has given its name to various species, such as amazon ants and a genus of parrots (amazona) often called simply amazons, though sometimes they are labelled amazon parrots.
- The 'female warriors of Greek mythology' were the Amazons, a legendary tribe living in 'Pontus' (Crimea) composed entirely of women who fought heroically.
- The name comes from the Greek Ὰμαζών, which popular etymology (first proposed by the Greeks themselves) derived from ἀ- 'without' + μαζός‚ 'a breast' (in connection with the fable that they destroyed the right breast so as not to interfere with the use of the bow). It is more probably derived from some unknown foreign word, such as the conjectural Persian ha-mazan-, 'warriors' (cognate with hamazakaran: 'to make war'); a conjectural primitive Greek *ṇ-mṇ-gw-jon-es "manless, without husbands" (ἀ- privative and a derivation of *man- also found in Slavic muzh); a conjectural Persian ama-janah 'virility-killing'; or an ethnonym Amazigh (wikipedia, at []).
- By extension, the name has been applied to female warriors generally.
- Figuratively, 'an Amazon' is any woman perceived as sharing [masculine] war-like attributes: tall, upright, muscular, athletic and graceful. The term is often used admiringly by male speakers; sometimes disparagingly.
- In Arthur Ransome's novel for and about children, Swallows and Amazons, the two sisters who form one of the central family (the Blacketts) call themselves Amazons as they play at being pirates. They live in a house ('Beckfoot') at the end of a river, which they dignify with the name 'Amazon', large enough to be navigated in their small sailing dinghy - which is also called 'Amazon'.