Sunday, 17 November 2019

Romania Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time I cast my net a little wider. As English place names share some links to other tongues it would be interesting to see if any of the elements contributing to our place names could be found elsewhere. Continuing an alphabetical tour of the world and a look at the largest Romanian cities.

Bucharest is traditionally associated with Bucur, said to be a prince, fisherman, shepherd or a hunter - depending upon who you listen to. His name is more likely from bucurie, a Dacian word telling of 'the city of joy'.

Cluj-Napoca is thought to combine the Greek napos 'timbered valley' with Slavic kluc 'mountain pass'.

Timisoara is a Romanian version of the earlier Hungarian name of Temesvar, itself from var or 'castle on the River Timis', the river name possibly meaning 'winding'.

Iasi has several theories as to the origin of the name, including the Sarmatian tribe Iazyges, or the Alanic Jassi tribe, or even jassic market.

Constanta is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Romania, it is named to honour the Constantia, half-sister of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (274-337).

Craiova has two equally plausible origins, either Old Slavonic kral 'king' or krajina 'border, edge'.

Brasov is said to come from the Latin corona or 'crown' in a 13th century work, supposedly a reference to St Catherine's Monastery. Other sources point to the city's coat of arms and the German name for the place Kronstadt meaning 'crown city'.

Galati comes from the Cuman word galat and ultimately from Persian kalat, both meaning 'fortress'.

Bacau, appearing earlier as Bako, Bakova and Bakovia, is likely derived from a personal name. Just which individual named Bako the place refers to is a mystery, it being a very common name. However we can speculate as to the origin of the personal name which may also be an alternative origin for the place name. Proto-Slavic byk meant 'ox' or 'bull' and could refer to this being an area known for rearing cattle.

Targu Mures translates as 'the market on the river Maros'.

Botosani is likely named after a family named Botas, they first recorded in the 15th century along with Prince Stephen the Great.

Satu Mare is another from a personal name and speaks of 'Zotmar's fort'.

Drobeta-Turnu Severin takes the last two elements from Old Church Slavonic severno turnu 'the north tower and added to the Roman name of the city, itself of uncertain origin.

Suceava is a Romania rendering of the Hungarian Szucsvar, where szucs and var 'castle of the furrier'.

Piatra Neamt takes its first element from the Romanian for 'rock' and adds the name of the county in which it is found. The place has also been known as Patria lui Craciun or 'Christmas rock', and Targu Piatra 'market rock'.

Targoviste is from the Old Bulgarian and refers to itself as 'the marketplace'.

Bistrita is from the name of the river, itself from the Slavic bystrica 'fast-moving water'.

Resita probably comes from the Latin recitia or 'cold spring'.

Slatina is of Slavic origin and refers to 'the marsh, swamp'.

Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.

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