Name of Moldova
Origins of the name
The principality was probably named after its earliest capital, "Târgul Moldovei" (nowadays Baia, Suceava County), a market town on the banks of the Moldova River. Naming a market town after the river located nearby was a common practice all across the territories inhabited by Romanians: Târgu Jiu, Cetatea Dâmboviței (now Bucharest), Târgul Siretului, Curtea de Argeș, etc.
According to a legend recorded by Moldavian prince Dimitrie Cantemir in the 17th century, the first Moldavian ruler, Dragoş, named the country he founded after one of his hounds, Molda, who died during the hunt of an aurochs in the lands of the future principality.
An explanation was proposed by the Romanian historian Bogdan Petriceicu-Hasdeu, who connected the name of the river Moldova with Mulde, a river in Saxony, and Moldau, the German name of the river Vltava in the Czech Republic, and argues that all derive from the Gothic word for "dust" (Gothic: 𐌼𐌿𐌻𐌳𐌰, Runic: ᛗᚢᛚᛞᚨ) - Mulda. It is notable that this would not be the only river in Romania that got its name in connection to the word, as Prahova could be derived from the Slavic equivalent, Prah.
Other early names of the principality were Maurovlachia - "Black Wallachia" (with the meaning of "Northern Wallachia" according to cardinal direction color) or Moldovlachia in Byzantine sources, especially when referring to the subordonate Moldavian Metropolitanate under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.[chronology citation needed]
Also, the name "Bogdania" was occasionally used during the rule of Bogdan I of Moldavia, this being kept for a longer time in Ottoman sources as Bogdan Iflak - "Bogdan's Wallachia" and Kara-Bogdan - "Black Bogdania".[chronology citation needed]