By Deane Barker

Definition: an ancient name for China

It may stem from a Turkish word to describe an ancient ruling dynasty. Marco Polo used the word quite often when describing his travels.

Why I Looked It Up

I had always been familiar with the airline Cathay Pacific. (Their elite mileage program was once called The Macro Polo Club.)

Then, in The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu, it’s mentioned a few times.

For example, when the titular character is deciding how the two protagonists should be killed:

“O God of Cathay,” he cried, “by what death shall these die – these miserable ones who would bind thine empire, which is boundless!”


Added on

I was in San Francisco, and I walked past “American Legion, Cathay Post 384.” I looked this up, and it’s a very historic American Legion post, started in the 1930s by Chinese veterans of World War I. Near as I can tell, it’s the only such American Legion post.

The year 1931 also marked a milestone in the history of the American Legion. Sixteen trailblazing World War I Chinese American veterans who called San Francisco’s Chinatown home established the first all Chinese-American American Legion Post.

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