Extension of a tribe/town/region name to a whole country

franknagy

Senior Member
It is very frequent that such local names are used internally or by other languages to denote a whole county or its official language.
Examples:
  1. Anglia
  2. Poland from a Western Polish tribe, but Lengyelország [in Hungarian] from an Eastern Polish tribe.
  3. Magyar = one of the 7 conquering tribes.
  4. Moscow -> Muscovite [inEnglish], muszka [inHungarian].
  5. Alemania [Sp.] from one of the German tribes.
 
  • ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Holland is only a part (western, near the coast) of the Netherlands.

    "Vlaanderen" is the name of the the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium now, but historically speaking, "Vlaanderen" referred to the county of Flanders (graafschap), nowadays the two provinces closest to the sea (containing Brugge and Gent).
     

    franknagy

    Senior Member
    Yes it used to be used for the whole Russia.
    It used to be used until the 19th century for the Russian people. The country was named Muszkaország.
    Those Hungarian traitors who helped Paskievich's invasion against the revolution in 1849 were named as "muszkavezetők"="leaders of Muscovites".
    The nickname of the Russian used in the years 1940-60 used to be "ruszki."
    Now the official name is orosz->Oroszország.
    The name of the capital has not changed: "Moszkva".
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    Austria (Österreich < lat. Marchia austriaca, Eastern Mark) in Czech:

    Rakousko (also plurale tantum Rakousy, esp. in Dolní/Horní Rakousy = Lower/Upper Austria), named after a castel, now Burg Raabs an der Thaya (in Czech Rakuš, Rakús, Rakous < Ratgoz), near the Austrian-Moravian border.
     

    apmoy70

    Senior Member
    Greek
    The Latin name of Greece, Graecia, traces its origin from the Graeans, a Boeotian tribe who during the great migration age (8th c. BCE) founded the city of Cumae in southern Italy. The Latins who came in touch with the tribe, named after them the whole Greek nation (Graeci) and their land (Graecia). The etymology of the name of the tribe is unknown.

    The Greek endonym for the Greek nation and its land, originates from the ancient tribe of Selloí the priestly tribe occupying the area of the Dodona Oracle of Zeus in Epirus, which gave rise to the toponym Hellopia; a specific people who migrated and spread to the rest of the Greek peninsula from Hellopia, were the Hellenes who produced the toponym Hellas (the earliest name of Hellas appears to be given to a Thessalian country which was probably Achilles' kingdom, who with his warriors according to Homer, the Myrmidons, fought in the Trojan War). The etymology of Hellene/Hellas is uncertain, it seems like it's related to the PIE root *swel- to burn, scorch cf Eng. sweal.
     

    Armas

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    Some Finnish names:
    Suomi (Finland) was the name of the south-western part of Finland, now Varsinais-Suomi or Finland Proper.
    Viro (Estonia), from Virumaa, the northern part of Estonia.
    Ruotsi (Sweden), from Roslagen (earlier Rodslag), coastal area near Stockholm. This is also the origin of the word Rus.
    Venäjä (Russia), most likely from the Wends, West Slavs in the Medieval era.
    Saksa (Germany), from Saxons or Saxony.
     

    Stoggler

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Apparently from Kikuyu - it means White Mountain (kere nyaga).

    In the colonial period it was pronounced /ˈkiːnjə/ but that's generally not heard now (due to its colonial associations), it's /ˈkɛːnjə/ these days.
     

    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Russia is "Krievija" in Latvian, and "krievs" in a Russian person.
    This comes from the Slavic tribe Krivich, who were the Latvians' neighbours in the Middle Ages.
     

    Yendred

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    France took its name from the Franks, a germanic people who invaded Roman Gaul in the 5th century.
    They were originally living around the Rhine river, that is in the present west region of Germany.

    This is not the only French geographic name having an outside origin.
    Normandy (a region in the north-west of France) took its name from "Northmen", that is to say the Vikings from Scandinavia, who invaded this region of France during the first millennium.
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    1. Poland from a Western Polish tribe, but Lengyelország [in Hungarian] from an Eastern Polish tribe.
    As far as I understand, it is not quite clear if "lędo" and "pole" here meant two opposed things (artificial forest clearing vs. natural open field) or actually the same thing. Either way, the tribal names simply reflect the biomes which those tribes populated (cf. also East Slavic "полiанѣ", which is just the same name, or "дьрьговичи", which may be translated as "children of swampy lands").
    This is also the origin of the word Rus.
    Which somehow wasn't mentioned yet. Common Baltic-Finnic *ro:tsi gave Old East Slavic *rusĭ (Old Rus. роусь, русь; the meaning shifted during the centuries, from an ethnonym for local Norse population to the name of the country controlled by Rurikids).
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Just wondering: is there any other reason than (financial) power that accounts for tribenames turning into countrynames?
    The tribe must be somehow characteristic to the land - typically either controlling it (Russia, Bulgaria, France, Sweden etc.) or just being the most numerous and influental in it (like, apparently, it was in the case of England).
    To think about it, even geographical adjacency often played a role (certainly Kriviches weren't the largest East Slavic tribe - it was just the tribe which Latgalians mostly contacted with early on, and subsequently it turned into a generic name for all East Slavs).
     
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    Yendred

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    Same for Brittany (Bretagne), settled by British Celts.
    True!

    Just wondering: is there any other reason than (financial) power that accounts for tribenames turning into countrynames?
    Influence, as Awwal12 said, and significant characteristics, like their strengh or some physical trait, that made them stand out from the other tribes.
    This is also where family names often come, from a physical characteristic or a local name.

    By the way, one of the accepted etymology for the Franks people is from Latin ferox, meaning ferocious ;)
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    The tribe must be somehow characteristic to the land - typically either controlling it (Russia, Bulgaria, France, Sweden etc.) or just being the most numerous and influental in it (like, apparently, it was in the case of England).
    To think about it, even geographical adjacency often played a role (certainly Kriviches weren't the largest East Slavic tribe - it was just the tribe which Latgalians mostly contacted with early on, and subsequently it turned into a generic name for all East Slavs).
    Isn"t number a kind of power as well?
     

    Circunflejo

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Castilla
    Swaziland. Well, I think that the name says it all, doesn't it? I'll add that this year the country was renamed Eswatini but, literally, that's Swaziland in Swazi.

    Somalia from Somali people.

    Laos from Lao people.

    Mongolia from Mongol people.

    Santo Domino is used by some people to refer to all the Dominican Republic.

    Talking about official languages, castellano (Castilian, from Castile) is the term used for Spanish in Spain.
     

    jimquk

    New Member
    English
    We might mention England, widely used to mean Britain/UK, to the extreme annoyance of Scots, Welsh, etc.

    Persia derives from the province of Pars, nowadays Fārs.


    For the inverse process: Sudan "(land of the) Blacks" originally applied to all the lands along the southern edge of the Sahara, but now only to that part in the Nile basin.

    Also Syria, in former times referred to Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, as well as present day Syria.
     

    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Two extreme cases of geographical extension are the names of the continents Africa and Asia.
    Originally, Africa was a Roman province on the North African coast (present-day coastal Tunisia and Libya), while Asia was used in Ancient Greece to refer to Anatolia (present-day Turkey). Today we use "Asia" for places that are thousand of miles away, like Korea or Vietnam.
     

    Stoggler

    Senior Member
    UK English
    We might mention England, widely used to mean Britain/UK, to the extreme annoyance of Scots, Welsh, etc.
    As a coda, while the English name for the country is derived from the Angles, in most of the Celtic languages the name for England is derived from the Saxons:

    Cornish - Pow Sows
    Irish - Sasana
    Sc. Gaelic - Sasainn
    Manx - Sostyn
    Breton - Bro-Saoz

    Welsh differs in that name for England is Lloegr, which comes from a word meaning lost lands. However, the words for English (whether the adjective, the name for the language, or denonyms) all come from the word for Saxon.
     

    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I almost forgot about Switzerland.
    Its name comes from the town Schwyz, of only 15,000 people. Today, the Canton of Schwyz is only one of Switzerland's 26 cantons.
     
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    Armas

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    Originally, Africa was a Roman province on the North African coast (present-day coastal Tunisia and Libya)
    If I remember correctly, for the ancient Greeks Libya was originally everything west of Egypt. Likewise, Aethiopia was everything south of Egypt (but, of course, they had no idea of how far the land expands).
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Catalonia, only if Coromines' theory of it being a metathesis of Laketania (the Iberian Lacetani) is right.
     

    Mahaodeh

    Senior Member
    Arabic, PA and IA.
    The names of Algeria and Tunisia derive from their main cities, Algiers and Tunis.
    Also Kuwait.

    Do colloquial usages count? Cairo for example is referred to as Misr (Egypt) colloquially although officially it continues to be Al-Qahira; and Damascus is referred to colloquially as Ash-shaam (the Levant) although officially it is Dimashq.

    Edit: I also just realised that this is the other way round, where the name of the region is given to the city.
     
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