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Name of Croatia

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Title: Name of Croatia  
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Name of Croatia

The name of Croatia derives from Medieval Latin Croātia, itself a derivation of the native ethnonym, earlier Xъrvat(in)ъ and modern-day Croatian: Hrvat.


  • Earliest record 1
  • Etymology 2
  • Distribution 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6

Earliest record

The first attestation of the term is in the charter of duke Trpimir from 852 AD, whose original has been lost but a copy has been preserved from 1568 (Lujo Margetić has proposed in 2002 that the document is in fact of legislative character, dating to AD 840[1]). The oldest stone inscription is the Branimir Inscription (found in Šopot near Benkovac), where Duke Branimir is mentioned:


The Old Croatian ethnonym *xъrvatъ (hŭrvatŭ) is of variant stem, and is attested in the earliest Croatian written monument, the Baška tablet from 1100 AD: zvъnъmirъ kralъ xrъvatъskъ ("Zvonimir, king of Croats").

The first foreign-language sources that unambiguously mention the name Croat were written in the 10th century, in the documents of Split Church Councils and the De administrando imperio, written by Byzantine emperor Constantine VII.[2]


Photo of the Tanais Tablet B containing the word Χοροάθος (Horoáthos).

The exact origin and meaning of the ethnonym Hrvat (Proto-Slavic *Xъrvat(in)ъ[3]) is not known and varied over history.

The word is not of native Slavic lexical stock, but a borrowing. One of the popular theories in the 20th century is that of the Iranian origin, connection being an Old Iranian toponym Harahvait-, the native name of Arachosia,[3] it passed from an Iranian to a Slavic linguistic and cultural sphere. "Arachosia" is the Latinized form of Ancient Greek Ἀραχωσία - Arachosíā. In Old Persian inscriptions, the region is referred to as Harahuvatiš (harauvatiiša.[4] The derivation of Proto-Slavic *xъrvatъ /xŭrva:tŭ/ from the Old Persian /xaraxwat-/ is argued to be substantiated by a 3rd-century Scythian form /Χοροάθ-/ attested in the Tanais Tablets, an inscription from Tanais.

The first etymological thesis was that of Constantine Porphyrogennetos (10th century), who connected the name of the Croats, Βελοχρωβάτοι and Χρωβάτοι, with the Greek word χωρα (khora, land) (Croats in slavic language means those who have many lands). Thomas the Archdeacon (13th century) considered that it was connected with the name of inhabitants of the Krk isle, Curetes, Curibantes. In the 19th century, there were given many different propositions to intrepret the Croatian ethnonym. J. Dobrovský saw in it the root hrev (tree), K. Zeuss haru (sword), S. Mikucki connected it with Old-Indian šarv- (strike), P. J. Šafárik with words xrъbъtъ, xribъtъ, xribъ, F. Miklošič from hruv/hrъv (dance), Đ. Daničić considered the root sar- (guard, protect), L. Geitler considered that to the ethnonym are related the Lithuanian words šárvas (armor) and šarvúotas (cuirassier), F. A. Braun in the name Harvata saw German Harfada (Harvaða fjöllum from Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks), what would be German name form of the Carpathian Mountains. R. Much connected it with a Proto-Germanic word hruvat- (horned), or as proposed Gołąb (1990) "warriors clad with horn-armour", as a self-designation.

The 20th century gave rise to many new, more or less convincing interpretations of the origin of the name of the Croats. A. I. Sobolevski derived it from the Iranian words hu- (good), ravah- (space, freedom) and sufiks -at-. G. A. Ilyinsky derived it from kher- (cut), as seen in the Greek word kárkharos (sharp), kharah (tough, sharp), and xorbrъ (brave). H. Hirt saw a connection with the name of a Germanic tribe Harudes (Χαροῦδες). A. Bruckner linked it with Slovak charbati se (to oppose), while skъrv-/xъrv- linked with Lithuanian šárvas (armor). K. Oštir considered valid the connection with an unspecified Thraco-Illyrian word xъrvata- (hill). M. Vasmer first considered it as a loanword from Old-Iranian haurvatā (shepherd) (Avestan haurvaiti means pasturage), then later from Old-Iranian hu-urvatha- (friend) (accepted also by N. Zupanič). M. Budimir saw in the name Indo-European *skwos (gray, grayish), which in Lithuanian gave širvas. S. Sakač linked it with the Avestan name Harahvaiti, which once signified the southwestern part of modern Afghanistan. V. Miller saw in the Croatian name the Iranian hvar- (Sun) and va- (bed), while P. Tedesco had a similar interpretation from Iranian huravant (Sunny).

The Medieval Latin name "Croātia" is derived from North-West Slavic xrovat-, by liquid metathesis from Common Slavic *xorvat-, from Proto-Slavic *xarwāt-.


Croatian place names can be found in northern Slavic regions such as Moravia and Slovakia, along the river Saale in Germany, in Austria and Slovenia, and in the south in Greece and Albania.[5]

Thus in the Duchy of Carinthia one can find Hrvatski kotar and Chrowat along upper Mura; in Middle Ages the following place names have been recorded: Krobathen, Krottendorf, Krautkogel; Kraut near Spittal. In the Duchy of Styria there are toponyms such as Chraberstorf, Krawerspach, Chrawat, etc.

In Slovenia there are Hrovate and Hrovača. In Germany along Saale there were Chruuati, Churbate, and Korbetha, west of Leipzig.

In the southern Balkans, the Republic of Macedonia has a place named Arvati (Арвати) situated near lower Prespa; in Greece there is a Charváti (Χαρβάτι) in Attica and another in Argolis, as well as Charváta (Χαρβάτα) on Crete;[6] and in Albania, Hirvati.


  1. ^ Antić, Sandra-Viktorija (November 22, 2002). "Fascinantno pitanje europske povijesti" [Fascinating question of European history].  
  2. ^ Ivo Goldstein: Hrvatski rani srednji vijek, Novi Liber, Zagreb, 1995. ISBN 953-6045-02-8
  3. ^ a b Alemko Gluhak: Hrvatski etimološki rječnik, August Cesarec, Zagreb, 1993. ISBN 953-162-000-8
  4. ^ "The same region appears in the  
  5. ^ Ivo Goldstein: Hrvatska povijest, Novi Liber, Zagreb, 2003. ISBN 953-6045-22-2
  6. ^ Vasmer (1941)



Further reading

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