The name for the country Turkey is derived (via Old French Turquie) from the Medieval Latin Turchia, Turquia, from Medieval Greek Τουρκία, itself being Τούρκος (borrowed into Latin as Turcus). It is first recorded in Middle English (as Turkye, Torke, later Turkie, Turky), attested in Chaucer, c. 1369. The Ottoman Empire was commonly referred to as Turkey or the Turkish Empire among its contemporaries. The word ultimately originates from the autonym Türk, first recorded in the Bugut inscription (as in its plural form türküt) and the Hüis Tolgoi Inscription (as türǖg) of the 6th century, and later, in the Orkhon inscriptions and the Tariat inscriptions (as both türük and türk) (𐱅𐰇𐰼𐰜) of the 8th century.



The English name of Turkey (from Medieval Latin Turchia[1]/Turquia[2]) means "land of the Turks". Middle English usage of Turkye is attested to in an early work by Chaucer called The Book of the Duchess (c. 1368). The phrase land of Torke is used in the 15th-century Digby Mysteries. Later usages can be found in the Dunbar poems, the 16th century Manipulus Vocabulorum ("Turkie, Tartaria") and Francis Bacon's Sylva Sylvarum (Turky). The modern spelling "Turkey" dates back to at least 1719.[3]

Official name


Turkey adopted its official name, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti, known in English as the Republic of Turkey or more commonly known as Turkey, upon the declaration of the republic on 29 October 1923. In 2021, however, via the UN, Turkey changed its spelling to Türkiye.

At a press briefing on 5 January 2023, a US State Department spokesman announced that:

the Board on Geographic Names retained both "Turkey" and "Republic of Turkey", the previous spelling, as conventional names, as these are more widely understood by the American public. The department will use the spelling that you saw today [Türkiye] in most of our formal diplomatic and bilateral contexts, including in public communications, but the conventional name can also be used if it is in furtherance of broader public understanding.[4]

Presidential circular on use of Türkiye


On 4 December 2021, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued a presidential circular calling for exports to be labelled as being "Made in Türkiye". The circular also said that in relation to other governmental communications, "necessary sensitivity will be shown on the use of the phrase 'Türkiye' instead of phrases such as 'Turkey,' 'Türkei,' 'Turquie' etc."[5][6] The official reason given in the circular for preferring Türkiye was that it "represents and expresses the culture, civilisation, and values of the Turkish nation in the best way".[7] According to Turkish state broadcaster TRT, it was also to avoid a pejorative association with the bird that shares the same name in the English language.[8][9]

It was reported in January 2022 that the government planned to register Türkiye with the United Nations.[7] According to the state-run TRT World, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu sent letters to the UN and other international organisations on 31 May 2022, requesting that they use Türkiye. The UN agreed and implemented the name change.[10][11][12]

In concordance with Turkish orthography, the preferred all caps spelling of the endonym is TÜRKİYE, written with a dotted capital I.[13]

Turkic sources


The first recorded use of the term "Türk" or "Türük" as an autonym is contained in the Old Turkic inscriptions of the Göktürks (Celestial Turks) of Central Asia (c. AD 735).[14] The Turkic self-designation Türk is attested to reference to the Göktürks in the 6th century AD. A letter by Ishbara Qaghan to Emperor Wen of Sui in 585 described him as "the Great Turk Khan."[15][better source needed]

Chinese sources


An early form of the same name may be reflected in the form of tie-le (鐵勒) or tu-jue (突厥), a name given by the Chinese to the people living south of the Altai Mountains of Central Asia as early as 177 BC.[16] The Chinese Book of Zhou (7th century) presents an etymology of the name Turk as derived from "helmet" by explaining the name to come from the shape of a mountain on which the Chinese worked in the Altai Mountains.[17]

Greek and Latin sources


Pomponius Mela refers to the "Turcae" in the forests north of the Sea of Azov, and Pliny the Elder lists the "Tyrcae" among the people of the same area.[18] The Greek name, Tourkia (Greek: Τουρκία) was used by the Byzantine emperor and scholar Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus in his book De Administrando Imperio,[19][20] though in his use, "Turks" always referred to Magyars[21] and Hungary was called Tourkia (Land of the Turks). Similarly, the medieval Khazar Khaganate, a Turkic state on the northern shores of the Black and Caspian seas, was also referred to as Tourkia in Byzantine sources.[22] However, the Byzantines later began using this name to define the Seljuk-controlled parts of Anatolia in the centuries that followed the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. The medieval Greek and Latin terms did not designate the same geographic area now known as Turkey. Instead, they were mostly synonymous with Tartary, a term including Khazaria and the other khaganates of the Central Asian steppe, until the appearance of the Seljuks and the rise of the Ottoman Empire in the 14th century, reflecting the progress of the Turkic expansion. However, the term Tartary itself was a misnomer[23] which was constantly used by the Europeans to refer the realms of Turkic peoples and Turkicized Mongols until the mid-19th century.

Arabic sources


The Arabic cognate Turkiyya (Arabic: تركية) in the form ad-Dawlat at-Turkiyya (Arabic: الدولة التركية "State of the Turks" or "the Turkish State") was historically used as an official name for the medieval Mamluk Sultanate which covered Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Hejaz and Cyrenaica.[24][25][26][a]

See also



  1. ^ The Arabic name for the modern Turkish state is slightly different, Turkiyā (تركيا).


  1. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Turkey". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  2. ^ Michael J. Arlen (2006). Passage to Ararat. MacMillan. p. 159. ISBN 9780374530129.
  3. ^ "Turkey". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  4. ^ "Department Press Briefing – 5 January 2023". United States Department of State. 6 January 2023. Retrieved 24 May 2023.
  5. ^ "Exports to be labeled 'Made in Türkiye'". Hürriyet Daily News. 6 December 2021. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  6. ^ "Presidential Circular No. 2021/24 on the Use of the Term "Türkiye" as a Brand (in Turkish)" (PDF). Resmî Gazete. 4 December 2021. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  7. ^ a b Soylu, Ragip (17 January 2022). "Turkey to register its new name Türkiye to UN in coming weeks". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  8. ^ "Turkey today, Turkiye tomorrow: UN okays country's request for name change". 2 June 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  9. ^ "Why Turkey is now 'Turkiye', and why that matters". TRT World. 13 December 2021. Archived from the original on 14 December 2021. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  10. ^ "UN to use 'Türkiye' instead of 'Turkey' after Ankara's request". TRT World. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  11. ^ "Turkey officially changes name at UN to 'Turkiye'". DAWN.COM. AFP. 3 June 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  12. ^ "Turkey wants to be called Türkiye in rebranding move". BBC News. 2 June 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  13. ^ "Republic of Türkiye Ministry of Foreign Affairs". Retrieved 11 September 2023.
  14. ^ Scharlipp, Wolfgang (2000). An Introduction to the Old Turkish Runic Inscriptions. Verlag auf dem Ruffel., Engelschoff. ISBN 3-933847-00-1, 9783933847003.
  15. ^ 卷099 列傳第八十七突厥鐵勒- 新亞研究所- 典籍資料庫 Archived 21 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Turk". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 7 December 2006.
  17. ^ Sinor, Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia, Page 295
  18. ^ Leiser 2005, 837
  19. ^ Jenkins, Romilly James Heald (1967). De Administrando Imperio by Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus. Corpus fontium historiae Byzantinae (New, revised ed.). Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies. p. 65. ISBN 0-88402-021-5. Retrieved 28 August 2013. According to Constantine Porphyrogenitus, writing in his De Administrando Imperio (c. 950 AD) "Patzinakia, the Pecheneg realm, stretches west as far as the Siret River (or even the Eastern Carpathian Mountains), and is four days distant from Tourkia (i.e. Hungary)."
  20. ^ Günter Prinzing; Maciej Salamon (1999). Byzanz und Ostmitteleuropa 950–1453: Beiträge zu einer table-ronde des XIX. International Congress of Byzantine Studies, Copenhagen 1996. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 46. ISBN 978-3-447-04146-1. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  21. ^ Henry Hoyle Howorth (2008). History of the Mongols from the 9th to the 19th Century: The So-called Tartars of Russia and Central Asia. Cosimo, Inc. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-60520-134-4. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  22. ^ Öztürk, Özhan (2011). "Pontus: Antik Çağ'dan Günümüze Karadeniz'in Etnik ve Siyasi Tarihi". Ankara: Genesis Yayınları. p. 364. Archived from the original on 15 September 2012. ... Greek term Tourkoi first used for the Khazars in 568 AD. In addition in "De Administrando Imperio" Hungarians call Tourkoi too once known as Sabiroi ...
  23. ^ Jennings, "The Journeyer", 309
  24. ^ Nicolle, David (2014). Mamluk 'Askari 1250–1517. Osprey Publishing. p. 4. ISBN 9781782009290.
  25. ^ The Cambridge History of Egypt, Volume 1, (1998) p. 250
  26. ^ Yosef, Koby (2013). "The Term Mamlūk and Slave Status during the Mamluk Sultanate". Al-Qanṭara. 34 (1). Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas: 8. doi:10.3989/alqantara.2013.001.