The name Khun Tan comes from Khun Tan River, which forms the backbone of in Tambon Pa Tan. It is also the name of That Pa Tan, an important temple in the district.
Roughly translated, "Khun Tan" means "Mountain of Palm Trees", "Khun" (ขุน) referring to a mountain range, and "Tan" (ตาล) referring to Borassus flabellifer, a certain kind of palm tree. Likewise, the subdistrict (Tambon) Pa Tan translates to "Palm Tree Forest".
The district is subdivided into 3 subdistricts (tambon), which are further subdivided into 55 villages (muban). Ban Ta is a township (thesaban tambon) which covers parts of tambon Ta. There are further 3 Tambon administrative organizations (TAO).