List of subnational name etymologies
This article provides a collection of the etymology of the names of subnational entities. This page generally only deals with regions and provinces; cities and other localities and features may appear listed under the individual country, with a link below, for example: "List of British place names and their meanings".
People's Republic of China
- Anhui - "peaceful banner"
- Beijing - "north capital"
- Chongqing - "double celebration"
- Guizhou - "valuable state"
- Hainan - "south of the ocean"
- Hebei - "north of the river (Huang He)"
- Heilongjiang - "black dragon river" (Amur)
- Henan - "south of the river (Huang He)"
- Jilin - "lucky forest"
- Ningxia - "tranquil Xia," "Xia" was a non-Han Chinese state in the region
- Qinghai - "green sea" (Lake Qing Hai)
- Shaanxi - "western Shan (a region in ancient China)"
- Shandong - "eastern mountain"
- Shanxi - "western mountain"
- Sichuan - "four rivers"
- Xizang (Tibet) - "western Zang (the Tibetan nationality)"
- Xinjiang - "new frontier"
- Yunnan - "south of the clouds"
- Czech Republic
France (Note that most modern French départements take their names from local geographical features: usually rivers, occasionally mountain ranges or coasts. Thus most such names have a self-evident immediate origin: even non-speakers of French can deduce them with a minimum of geographical knowledge. The traditional provinces and regions (of any period) often bear names with more obscure and superficially richer histories.)
- Alsace - from a latinisation of El-sasz, which allegedly meant "foreign settlement"
- Brittany - area occupied by refugee Britons from Roman Britain (Britannia) circa 500 AD
- Burgundy - part of the land settled by the East Germanic Burgundians, who possibly originated on the island now known as Bornholm
- Champagne - from the Latin campania (plain, open country, battlefield)
- Dauphiné - from the nickname and coat of arms of former ruler Guy VIII of Vienne: "dolphin"
- Gascony - from the Latin word Vasco, term used to label a Vascon (or Basque)
- Languedoc - the region speaking the langue d'oc (as opposed to the regions whose language developed into modern French)
- Limousin - from an adjective referring to the local centre, Limoges
- Lorraine - from the Mediaeval Latin coining Lotharingia, meaning the lands granted as a kingdom in 855 AD to Lothair, son of the Holy Roman Emperor Lothair I
- Normandy - land settled by Viking Northmen in the early 10th century
- Provence - from Latin provincia (province), short for Provincia Narbonensis, the Roman province located in present-day southern France.
- Baden-Württemberg - created by joining Baden and Württemberg. Baden: after the city of Baden-Baden, formerly Baden, the name was doubled to distinguish it from the state. The name means "baths", after the springs in the city. Württemberg: origin unknown.
- Bavaria - after the tribe of the Baiuvarii, who probably gained their name from the land of Bohemia.
- Brandenburg - after the city of Brandenburg. The earlier Slavic name of the castle (Burg) of Brandenburg appears as Branibor (Branim's forest).
- Hesse - after the tribe of the Chatti.
- Lower Saxony - after the tribe of the Saxons. "Lower" was added in modern times to distinguish it from the state of Saxony.
- Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania - created by joining Mecklenburg with the western part of Pomerania, also called Hither Pomerania. Mecklenburg takes its name from a castle (Burg means "castle" in German), the origin of the first part remains unclear. Pomerania comes from Slavic roots meaning "near the ocean".
- North Rhine-Westphalia - created by joining the northern part of the Rhineland with Westphalia. Westphalia was the westernmost subdivision of the Saxon tribe; the origin of the second part (-falen in German) is unknown.
- Rhineland-Palatinate - created by joining parts of the Rhineland (after the Rhine river) with the Rhenish Palatinate, formerly a Palatine county, meaning that its count was the administrator of a palace of the Holy Roman Emperor. The word derives from Latin Palatinus "imperial", from Palatium "palace", after the location of the palace of the Roman Emperor Augustus on the Palatine Hill in Rome.
- Saarland - after the Saar river.
- Saxony - land of the Saxons (possibly the "sword-folk"). During the middle ages and early modern times, the name migrated from today's Lower Saxony to the current location of the state of Saxony.
- Saxony-Anhalt - created by joining the Prussian Province of Saxony (named after the tribe of the Saxons) with Anhalt.
- Schleswig-Holstein - created by joining Schleswig and Holstein. The district of Schleswig tales its name from the city of Schleswig, which in turn derives its name from the Schlei bay. The name "Holstein" comes from a Saxon subtribe named Holcetae .
- Thuringia - after the tribe of the Thuringii.
- Chungcheong - from the first characters in the city names Chungju and Cheongju.
- Gangweon (South Korea)/Kangwŏn (North Korea) - from the first characters in the city names Gangneung and Weonju .
- Gyeongsang - from the first characters in the city names Gyeongju and Sangju.
- Hamgyŏng - from the first characters in the city names Hamju and Kyŏngsŏng (?).
- Hwanghae - from the first characters in the city names Hwangju and Haeju .
- Jeolla - from the first characters in the city names Jeonju and Naju (The first character of Naju is actually "ra"—"r" changes to "n" in the initial position, and the combination "nr" changes to "ll" due to phonetic characteristics of the Korean language).
- P'yŏngan - from the first characters in the city names P'yŏngyang and Anju .
- Gyeonggi - the Chinese characters for the name mean "area around the capital," i.e., around Seoul, South Korea, where the province is located.
- Holland (part of the Netherlands; the term is often used to refer to the country as a whole): Germanic "holt (i.e. wooded) land" (often incorrectly regarded as meaning "hollow [i.e. marsh] land")
- Batavia (Germanic): "arable land" (derived from the regional name "Betuwe", as opposed to the other regional name "Veluwe" meaning "fallow" or "waste" land)
New Zealand (see also List of New Zealand place names and their meanings)
- Auckland - in honour of George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, a patron of William Hobson
- Hawke's Bay - in honour of Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke of Towton
- Levin - from a director of the railway company that created the town to help boost its railway
- Marlborough - to commemorate John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
- Nelson - in honour of Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson
- Otago - anglicised from the Maori name Otakou, a kainga east of present-day Otago Harbour
- Plimmerton - from John Plimmer, Wellington pioneer, director of the railway company that created the seaside resort to help boost its railway; central Wellington has Plimmer's Steps.
- Tasman - district named from the bay name, in honour of Dutchman Abel Tasman, commander of first European expedition to sight the country; also a mountain and glacier name. Abel Tasman National Park bears a fuller version of his name.
- Waikato- Named after the river Waikato, which itself means "river"
- Wellington - in honour of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
- Bessarabia - from Basarab I, Wallachian king who led some expeditions in this land
- Bukovina - "Buchenland" = "beech land"
- Dobrogea - "good land"
- Haţeg - "Terra Herzog" = Duke's land
- Muntenia - from muntean = man of the mountains, from Romanian munte=mountain
- Oltenia - from the river Olt, called Alutus by the Romans, possibly from Latin lutum, meaning mud or clay.
- Transylvania - "beyond the woods"
- Wallachia - "land of the foreigners".
Republic of China (Taiwan)
- Hsinchu - "new bamboo" in Mandarin, named after a bamboo fortress
- Hualien - "lotus flower" in Mandarin
- Kaohsiung - "bamboo forest" in a Formosan language
- Miaoli - "plain" in a Formosan language, originally sounds like "pali" (貓裡)
- Penghu - "clashing-wave lakes" in Mandarin
- Taidong - "eastern Taiwan" in Mandarin
- Tainan - "southern Taiwan" in Mandarin
- Taipei - "northern Taiwan" in Mandarin
- Taoyuan - "peach orchard" in Mandarin
United Kingdom (see also List of British place names and their meanings, Etymological list of counties of the United Kingdom)
- England - from Engla-lond, the land settled in the early 6th century by various peoples from Low Germany, among them the Angles (Latin Anglii) who originally inhabited the fish-hook shaped territory known as Angeln situated in present-day Schleswig. See Anglo-Saxons.
- Gibraltar - from Arabic "djebl al-Tarik" -> "Tarik's rock" because the Arab general Tarik-ibn-Ziyad started his conquest of the Iberian peninsula from here in 711.
- Northern Ireland - from Old Irish Eriu. Precise meaning uncertain, though it could derive from the name of a prehistoric fertility goddess .
- Scotland Literally 'Land of the Scots'. The Scottish people were originally 5th century settlers from Ireland although the name didn't come about until after the 9th Century. Alba, the Gaelic name for Scotland means 'highlands' from the Latin albus or 'white' (describing the mountains). Caledonia, the Latin name means forested highlands
- Wales - "land of the foreigners", from the Germanic 'welsche' the term used by Anglo-Saxon invaders of the British Isles for the native Celts they encountered. The Welsh native toponym "Cymru" means "fellow countrymen". Several areas in Europe were named by the ancient Germans in the same way, the term used only for places inhabited by peoples of Celtic or Latin descent, including "Wallonia" in Belgium, "Valais" (in Switzerland), Wallachia in Romania, "welsche Schweiz" (French-speaking Switzerland) and the archaic "Welschenland" (a term for Italy).
- Placename etymology
- List of country name etymologies
- List of political entities named after people
- Lists of etymologies