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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".

  • 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.)
  • Korea
    • 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.
  • Netherlands
    • 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)
  • Romania
    • 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"
      • Ardeal - "wooden hill" - arde is an Indo-European particle meaning forest, the same as in English Forest of Arden and Belgian Ardennes Woods; Deal means hill in Romanian.
    • Wallachia - "land of the foreigners".
  • 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).

See also

Last updated: 01-22-2005 17:37:14