Friday, 27 May 2016

What are the Origins of Country Names?

Country name origins

Why your country is named so? Using the list of countries as determined by the UN and information from the Oxford Concise Dictionary of World Place-Names, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, discover surprising and intriguing language facts from around the globe.
Some examples:

The name Andorra comes from a local Navarrese word, andurrial, meaning ‘shrub-covered land’. It has also been suggested that the country took its name from Arabic al-Gandura, ‘the wanton woman’, a legacy from the Moors.

Imaging the existence of a land located in the Southern hemisphere, the Greeks came up with the name Terra Australis Incognita, meaning ‘Unknown Southern Land’.

Bangladesh means ‘Land of the Bengalis’, from deś, ‘land’ or ‘country’. The Bengalis take their name from Banga, the chief of the Dravidian-speaking Bang tribe.

Canada’s name is perhaps derived from the Huron-Iroquois word kanata, meaning ‘village’ or ‘settlement’.

Luxembourg is originally found as Luciliburhuc, meaning ‘little castle’.


Spain may come from the Punic span or tsepan, ‘rabbit’, which were numerous in the peninsula, or from the Punic sphan,‘north’, since it was north of Carthage – or it may come from the Basque ezpaña, ‘lip’ or ‘extremity’, a reference to this south-western area of Europe.

Go on reading in OxfordWords Blog

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