Name of Croatia

Name of Croatia

The name of Croatia derives from Medieval Latin Croātia, itself a derivation of North-West Slavic xrovat-, by liquid metathesis from Common Slavic *xorvat-, from Proto-Slavic *xarwāt-. The Old Croatian ethnonym *xъrvatъ is of variant stem, and is attested in the earliest Croatian written monument, the Baška tablet (1100 AD): zvъnъmirъ kralъ xrъvatъskъ ("Zvonimir, king of Croats").

Etymologically, the name is probably ultimately cognate with Arachosia, from the Old Iranian name of the Helmand River.


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 propounded 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:


Foreign-language sources unambiguously make a mention of the name Croat no earlier than tenth century, in the documents of Split Church Councils and the De administrando imperio, written by Byzantine emperor Constantine VII.[2]


The exact origin of the ethnonym Hrvat (Proto-Slavic *Xъrvatъ, Old Church Slavonic: Xъrvatinъ[3]) is not known. The most widely-held theory is that of the connection with an Iranian name,[3] based on the Old Persian toponym Harahvat-, the native name of Arachosia. "Arachosia" is the Latinized form of Greek Ἀραχωσία - Arachosíā. In Old Persian inscriptions, the region is referred to as 'Harahuvatiš', written h-r-v-u-t-i (corresponding to Vedic Sarasvatī).[4]

The derivation of Proto-Slavic *xъrvatъ /xŭrva:tŭ/ from the Old Persian /xaraxwat-/ seems to be substantiated by a 3rd century Scythian form /xoroaθ-/ (ΧΟΡΟΑΘΟΣ) attested in the Tanais Tablets, an inscription from Tanais.[citation needed]

In Yugoslavia, the publication of Iranian etymologies of the ethnonym was frowned upon politically in favour of the emphasis of a pure Slavic origin of the Croats.[citation needed] Since Croatian independence in 1991, the mainstream etymology of the name has become acceptable.[citation needed] There are still numerous attempts to derive the name from alternative origins; Gołąb (1990) [5] proposes a borrowing from Proto-Germanic that came to mean "warriors clad with horn-armour". According to this scenario, an exonym C(h)rovati, Xrōbátoi, Hrváti etc. over time was adopted as a self-designation.


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.[6]

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;[7] and in Albania, Hirvati.


  1. ^ Sandra-Viktorija Antić: Fascinantno pitanje europske povijesti ("Fascinating question of European history"; Vjesnik, November 22nd, 2002), available onlinePDF (111 KB)
  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 Avestan Vidēvdāt (1.12) under the indigenous dialect form Haraxvaitī- (whose -axva- is typical non-Avestan)." Schmitt, Rüdiger (1987), "Arachosia", Encyclopædia Iranica, 2, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, pp. 246–247, [dead link]
  5. ^ Gołąb, Zbigniew (1990). The Origins of the Slavs: A Linguist's View. Columbus: Slavica. 
  6. ^ Ivo Goldstein: Hrvatska povijest, Novi Liber, Zagreb, 2003. ISBN 953-6045-22-2
  7. ^ Vasmer, Max (1941) (in German). Die Slaven in Griechenland. Berlin: Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften. 

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