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For other uses, see International (disambiguation).

International mostly means something (a company, language, or organization) involving more than a single country. The term international as a word means involvement of, interaction between or encompassing more than one nation, or generally beyond national boundaries. For example, international law, which is applied by more than one country and usually everywhere on Earth, and international language which is a language spoken by residents of more than one country.

In American English, "International" is also commonly used as a euphemism for "foreign" or even "foreigner."[1][2]

Origin of the word[edit]

The term international was coined by the utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham in his Introduction to Principles of Morals and Legislation, which was printed for publication in 1780 and published in 1789. Bentham wrote: "The word international, it must be acknowledged, is a new one; though, it is hoped, sufficiently analogous and intelligible. It is calculated to express, in a more significant way, the branch of law which goes commonly under the name of the law of nations.[3] The word was adopted in French in 1801.[4] Thomas Erskine Holland noted in his article on Bentham in the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica that "Many of Bentham's phrases, such as 'international,' 'utilitarian,' 'codification,' are valuable additions to our language; but the majority of them, especially those of Greek derivation, have taken no root in it."

Meaning in particular fields[edit]

  • In linguistics, an international language is one spoken by the people of more than one nation, usually by many. Also called world language. English, Spanish, French and Arabic are considered to be world languages.[5]
  • In interlinguistics, international often has to do with languages rather than nations themselves. An "international word" is one that occurs in more than one language. These words are collected from widely spoken source or control languages, and often used to establish language systems that people can use to communicate internationally, and sometimes for other purposes such as to learn other languages more quickly. The vocabulary of Interlingua has a particularly wide range, because the control languages of Interlingua were selected to give its words and affixes their maximum geographic scope.[6] In part, the language Ido is also a product of interlinguistic research.

"International" is also sometimes used as a synonym for "global".

See also[edit]


External links[edit]


  • Ankerl, Guy (2000). Global communication without universal civilization. INU societal research. Vol.1: Coexisting contemporary civilizations : Arabo-Muslim, Bharati, Chinese, and Western. Geneva: INU Press. ISBN 2-88155-004-5. 

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