Uncle Sam

Un·​cle Sam | \ ˌəŋ-kəl-ˈsam \

Definition of Uncle Sam

1 : the U.S. government
2 : the American nation or people

Examples of Uncle Sam in a Sentence

Uncle Sam wants you to join the Army!

First Known Use of Uncle Sam

1810, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for Uncle Sam

expansion of U.S., abbreviation of United States

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Time Traveler for Uncle Sam

The first known use of Uncle Sam was in 1810

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Uncle Sam


Financial Definition of Uncle Sam

What It Is

Uncle Sam is a fictional character who represents the United States government. His predecessor was a character named Brother Jonathan.

How It Works

Uncle Sam first appeared in the 1820s. Though many artists drew the character in a variety of political cartoons during that time, the artist Thomas Nast is most commonly credited for creating the image most familiar to us today. Nast's first illustration of Uncle Sam was published in the November 20, 1869, edition of Harper's Weekly. Artist James Montgomery Flagg also created a famous image of Uncle Sam wearing a top hat and blue jacket and pointing a finger at the viewer in the famous "I Want YOU for U.S. Army" poster.

The name "Uncle Sam" is associated with Samuel Wilson, a meat packer from Troy, New York. Wilson supplied beef to the U.S. Army during the War of 1812 and he stamped the barrels with "U.S." Apparently, soliders began joking that initials meant that the food was from "Uncle Sam." The media published this, which helped the term become the official nickname for the U.S. government.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Why It Matters

Uncle Sam is not just a symbol of the U.S. government. He is also a patriotic symbol of the unity and strength of the United States.

Source: Investing Answers

Uncle Sam


English Language Learners Definition of Uncle Sam

: the American government, nation, or people pictured or thought of as a person

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More from Merriam-Webster on Uncle Sam

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with Uncle Sam

Spanish Central: Translation of Uncle Sam

Nglish: Translation of Uncle Sam for Spanish Speakers

Comments on Uncle Sam

What made you want to look up Uncle Sam? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to gather or build up little by little

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