Etymological list of counties of romania

This is a list of the origins of the names of counties of Romania. Many of the etymologies are Romanian interpretations of Slavonic names (e.g.: Gorj and Dolj), as the administration documents in the Middle Ages Romanian Principalities (Wallachia and Moldavia) were written in this language.

County name Language of origin Meaning
Alba Romanian
(Latin)
Named after the city of Alba-Iulia ("The white city of Julius/(the) Gyula; also Gyulafehérvár, "White castle of (the) Gyula; also Bălgrad, "White city" in several Slavic languages), probably from the white colour of the city walls.
Arad Hungarian Named after the city of Arad, formerly Urod (11th century) after the name of a Hungarian knight, probably from the root ur meaning lord, meaning a place, which belongs to your (-od/today:ad) lord (úr).
Argeş Dacian Named after the Argeş River, in ancient times Argessos, probably meaning "shiny".
Bacău Latin Named after the city of Bacău, in ancient times known as Bacovia, meaning "the road of Bachus". The area was an important source of wine for the romans.
Bihor Slavic From vihor (whirlwind)
Bistriţa-Năsăud Slavic and German Named after Bistriţa (Slavic, "rapid"), a city and river and the city of Năsăud (German Nussdorf, "walnut tree village")
Botoşani Romanian
(Mongolian)
Several possible origins: botoş (tick), botos (big-mouthed), botoşei (booties) and where Batu Khan split a part of his armies, invading what is now the northern Balkans, Hungary, Austria and Bohemia. "Batu", also pronounced "Botu", means "firm" in the Mongolian language.
Braşov Uncertain, possibly Slavic Possibly from baras, fortress.
Brăila Turkish Turkish origin from the proper name "Ibrail". Among the earlier names are Ibraila, Brilago, Uebereyl, Brailov.
Bucureşti Romanian
(Dacian)
From Bucur, personal name meaning "joyful", cognate with Albanian bukur (beautiful), assumed to be of Thraco-Dacian origin.
Buzău Greek Greek origin from Μουσαίος (Mousaios), the original name of the city of Buzău.
Caraş-Severin Turkish and Slavic Named after the Caraş River (Turkish Kara, "dark, black") and Turnu Severin (Romanian, "Northern Tower": turn is borrowed from German Türm, "tower"; severin is an Slavic word meaning "Northern").
Călăraşi Romanian
(Latin)
From călăraş, a military auxiliary corps of cavalry during the Middle Ages in Wallachia. The word derives out of Romanian călare (riding), itself from cal (horse), Romanian cognate of Latin caballus.
Cluj German or Latin From the first part of Cluj-Napoca, deriving either from German Klause, "Mountain pass" or Latin clusium, "enclosing", referring to the surrounding hills.
Constanţa Latin Named after Constanţa. The city, originally called Tomis, was renamed Constantiana by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine, in honor of his sister, Flavia Julia Constantia.
Covasna Slavic From cvaz, "sour", referring to the taste of the mineral waters in the area.
Dâmbovița Slavic Named after the Dâmbovița River, from Дъб, dămb, meaning "oak"[1]
Dolj Slavic From Dolu Jiu, the Jiu of the valley. The Jiu river flows through the county.
Galaţi Cuman (Turkic) From gala(t), borrowed to Turkish kala (fortress) (also, an unsourced speculation, ascribe the origin to a certain Galatian Celtic tribe)
Giurgiu Unknown, possibly Italian

Possibly from Rossy vel Jargo, Jurcova or Zorio. (see San Giorgio, the patron of their city.

Gorj Slavic From Gora Jiu, "Jiu of the mountains". The Jiu river flows through the county.
Harghita Uncertain Possibly related to "Argeş" (Argessos), but the peculiar phonetic form indicates that there was an unknown intermediary language that was not Romanian, Hungarian or Slavic, possibly some form of Sarmatian or Scythian.
Ialomița Slavic Named after the Ialomița river, formerly known as Ialovnița, from Slavic jalov, "barren"[1]
Iaşi Possibly Sarmatian Named after the Sarmatian Iazygi which lived in the 1st century. However, this does not explain the existence of other localities called Iași throughout Romania.
Ilfov Slavic Named after the Ilfov River, from Slavic "Elhovo" meaning "Alder" (Alnus glutinosa).[1]
Maramureş Dacian
(probably)
From mara, derived from mal, "shore", and mureș, "murky".
Mehedinţi Romanian
(Latin)
From the town of Mehadia, possibly be derived from the ancient Latin name of the colony: Ad mediam ("in the middle"). Mehedinți might also come from Mehadianți, as -ianţiu/-ianţu is a common ending for family names in the area.
Mureş Latin Named after the Mureş river, in Latin Maris ("murky").
Neamţ Romanian
(Slavic)
Named after Piatra Neamţ, neamț means "German" (from Slavic nemeti). The Teutons built a fortress there to protect the Bicaz Pass, which leads to Transylvania
Olt Dacian Named after the Olt river, known to the Dacians as Alutus (etymology unknown). The initial "o" could indicate a Slavic intermediary.
Prahova Slavic Named after the Prahova river. Prahova derives either from prag ("water cataract") or prah("dust").[1]
Satu Mare Romanian
German
Named after the city of Satu Mare. Satu Mare means "Big village" in Romanian.
Sălaj Hungarian Named after the Sălaj River, from Hungarian Szilágy "elm creek", composed from szil, "elm" and ágy "riverbed".[2]
Sibiu Slavic or possibly Latin Slavic: from sviba, "horn". Latin: from Cibinum, the name of the town of Sibiu as mentioned in 1191 - ultimately derived from the name of the river Cibin that passes through the town, possibly of Latin origin
Suceava Hungarian From Szűcsvár, "Town of the skin-workers", from szűcs, "fourrier" and vár, "city".
Teleorman Cuman (Turkic) From deli orman "thick forest" (lit. "mad forest").
Timiş Possibly Latin After the Timiş River, known to the Romans as Tibisis or Tibiscus, of uncertain etymology.
Tulcea Uncertain, possibly Tatar Named after the city of Tulcea. Meaning unknown. -cea is a common Turkish ending. There is a town with a similar name (Tulchin) in Southern Ukraine, reinforcing the Tatar hypothesis.
Vaslui Cuman (Turkic) Named after the Vaslui River, which shows a typical Cuman ending for hydronyms: -ui, "water".
Vâlcea Romanian/Slavic Romanian for "little valley", from vale, "valley" (Latin vallis). Also possibly from vlk ("wolf"), the name of a Dark Age Slavic warlord mentioned in Hungarian chronicles.[3]
Vrancea Slavic Ultimately from vrana, "raven".

Historical counties

County name Language of origin Meaning
Bălți Romanian "ponds"
Covurlui Cuman From kurgu, "dry" + suffix -ui, "water"
Cetatea Albă Romanian "White fortress"
Câmpulung Romanian
(Latin)
"long plain"
Odorhei Hungarian First part of Odorheiu Secuiesc, from Székelyudvarhely, "Market-town of the Székely"
Muscel Romanian
(Dacian?)
"hillock"
Soroca Slavic "magpie"
Vlașca Slavic (ultimately Germanic) "land of the Vlachs" (see Vlachs#Etymology)

Notes

References

  • Constantin C. Giurescu, Istoria Bucureştilor. Din cele mai vechi timpuri pînă în zilele noastre, Bucharest, 1966

See also

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