1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Savanna
SAVANNA or Savannah (Span. sávana, a sheet; Late Lat. sabanum, Gr. σάβανον, a linen cloth), a term applied either to a plain covered with snow or ice, or, more generally, to a treeless plain. Its use in English, more frequent formerly than now, is most common in application to the great plains of central North America, in which it is practically the equivalent of “prairie” (q.v.). In this application it was first used (accented thus—savána) by the Spanish historian Gonzalo de Oviedo y Valdés in the 16th century.