Suppose we are looking at Internet domain names. Every country has its own two-letter abbreviation (.fr, .uk, .ca, .za, etc.) — except for the US, as far as I know. They have .com, .org, .edu, .gov. I assume there's an historic reason for this, but what I'm wondering is: is there a term to describe the assumed centrality of the US in the domain-name world — the country being so "central" that it does not even need to be identified. Only the other needs to be identified.

Now suppose we are in Europe or North America. I'm asked to describe a man. "He's five foot eight, brown hair, wearing a beige suit..." I know in North America and I presume in Europe, that unless I specifically state otherwise, he is assumed by most of my listeners to be white. In other words, whiteness like the US, is assumed to be so central that it does not need to be identified.

I could give many more examples of the margin vs. the centre, but hopefully these two illustrate what I mean.

My Question: Is there a term that describes this centrality — the centrality of not needing to be labelled, if you will?

I don't know how to research the question either on this site or elsewhere.

  • @Mahnax I'd edited out of my question that even if there is a .us domain name, I myself have never seen it, despite having visited thousands of US websites.
    – JAM
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 3:48
  • 5
    The classic term in linguistics is 'unmarked' Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 3:53
  • 3
    you could call the US the default.
    – user31341
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 4:00
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    @FumbleFingers oooh, can't resist another example: that Stack Exchange users are assumed to be male unless their ID specifically identifies them as otherwise... This OP's "centralities" are her centralities... :)
    – JAM
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 5:29
  • 1
    @JAM: Touché! I don't suppose it would do any good to say I was using it in the "gender-neutral" sense? Actually, it was a bad choice of words entirely. I didn't really mean to reinforce the idea that you personally make such assumptions, since they were just given as examples anyway. But the fact of the matter is we all make lots of assumptions about "shared knowledge/expectations" all the time, otherwise we'd never finish saying anything because of all the extra detail required. Whatever - StoneyB's unmarked is probably about the best you'll get here. Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 5:38

4 Answers 4


You may be looking for Americentrism.

American networks are said to have an americentric bias in the selection of their material and U.S. celebrities have been accused of being Americentric.

I've also found this that you may be interested.

Exceptionalism is the perception that a country, society, institution, movement, or time period is "exceptional" (i.e., unusual or extraordinary) in some way and thus does not need to conform to normal rules or general principles. Used in this sense, the term reflects a belief formed by lived experience, ideology, perceptual frames, or perspectives influenced by knowledge (or lack thereof) of historical or comparative circumstances.

And to be more specific: American exceptionalism. Though wikipedia suggests that

American exceptionalism is the proposition that the United States is different from other countries in that it has a specific world mission to spread liberty and democracy.

it can be used to imply superiority:

Although the term does not necessarily imply superiority, many neoconservative and American conservative writers have promoted its use in that sense. To them, the United States is like the biblical "shining city on a hill," and exempt from historical forces that have affected other countries.

  • This is interesting and explains why "National Novel Writing Month" is (supposedly) international. It's possible that there are two concepts at play which I unintentionally confounded in my question: the specific (American exceptionalism) and the more general, which might be described in StoneyB's marked/unmarked in the comments.
    – JAM
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 5:26
  • @JAM Yeah, both concepts are very similar.
    – user19341
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 5:39
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    I don't see this concept as being peculiar to America. After all, postage stamps are presumed to be British unless the name of the country is written on them. Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 8:42

From the context, the appropriate adjective would be

2 of or in agreement with the character or makeup of, or circumstances surrounding, someone or something.

The top level domain name for the UK is naturally, .uk (as one would expect).
The people of Spain, naturally, speak Spanish -- what else?

  • Really, one would expect the TLD for the UK to be .gb because usually they use ISO 3166 codes (and .gb does indeed also exist). .uk is an historical accident which may or may not involve people from Queens University Belfast expressing a preference to Jon Postel, depending on which sources you believe.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 10:15

.com is a prototypical domain suffix, and a white man is the prototype of an American man.

n 1: a standard or typical example; "he is the prototype of good breeding"; "he provided America with an image of the good father" [syn: prototype, paradigm, epitome, image]
— WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006)


I suspect that the assumption of certain default characteristics reflects the hegemony of particular groups within that domain (Weak pun intended).

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