Name of the Czech Republic

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Czech Republic's official formal and short names at the United Nations are Česká republika and Česko in Czech, and the Czech Republic and Czechia in English.[1] All these names derive from the name of the Czechs, the West Slavic ethnic group native to the Czech lands. Czechia (/ˈɛkiə/), the official English short name specified by the Czech government, is used by many international organisations and attested as early as 1841. However, most English speakers use [the] Czech Republic in all contexts.[2][3] Other languages generally have greater official use of a short form analogous to Česko or Czechia[4][5] (such as French [la] Tchéquie, or Korean 체코/Cheko) although forms equivalent to "Czech Republic" are not uncommon.

The Czech name Čechy is from the same root but means Bohemia, the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech lands and the modern Czech Republic. The name Bohemia is an exonym derived from the Boii, a Celtic tribe inhabiting the area before the early Slavs arrived. The Lands of the Bohemian Crown (1348–1918) were part of the Holy Roman Empire; often called "the Czech lands", they sometimes extended further, to all of Silesia, Lusatia, and various smaller territories. The Czech adjective český means both "Czech" and "Bohemian".

The Czech Republic's official formal and short names in Czech were decided at its creation after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in the so-called "Velvet Divorce" of 1993.[4][6][7][8][9][10]

Czech-language name[edit]

The country is named after the Czechs (Czech: Čechové), a Slavic tribe residing in central Bohemia that subdued the surrounding tribes in the late 9th century and created the Czech/Bohemian state. The origin of the name of the tribe itself is unknown. According to legend, it comes from their leader Čech, who brought them to Bohemia. Research regards Čech as a derivative of the root čel- (member of the people, kinsman).[11]

Several variants of the name have been used over the centuries, due to the evolution of the Czech language. The digraph "cž" was used from the time of the 16th-century Bible of Kralice until the reform of 1842, being eventually replaced by "č" (changing Cžechy to Čechy). In the late 19th century the suffix for the names of countries changed from -y to -sko (e.g. Rakousy-Rakousko for Austria, Uhry-Uhersko for Hungary). While the notion of Česko appears for the first time in 1704, it only came into official use in 1918 as the first part of the name of the newly independent Czechoslovakia (Česko-Slovensko or Československo) . Within that state, the Czech Socialist Republic (Česká socialistická republika, ČSR)[8] was created on 1 January 1969.[12] On 6 March 1990 the Czech Socialist Republic was renamed the Czech Republic (Česká republika, ČR).[13] When Czechoslovakia broke up in 1993, the Czech part of the name was intended to serve as the name of the Czech state. The decision started a dispute as many perceived the "new" word Česko, which before had been only rarely used alone, as harsh sounding or as a remnant of Československo.[14] The older term Čechy was rejected by many because it was primarily associated with Bohemia proper and to use it for the whole country was seen as inappropriate. This feeling was especially prominent among the inhabitants of Moravia.

The use of the word "Česko" within the country itself has increased in recent years.[15] During the 1990s, "Česko" was rarely used and viewed as controversial: some Czech politicians and public figures (e.g. media magnate Vladimír Železný) expressed concern about the non-use of Česko and Czechia; on the other side, individuals such as president Václav Havel and minister Alexandr Vondra have strongly opposed using these forms. In 1997, the Civic initiative Czechia was formed by linguists and geographers in Brno to promote the use of Czechia.[16] The following year, a conference of professionals aimed at encouraging the use of the name was held at Charles University in Prague. The Czech Senate held a session on the issue in 2004.[17][18]

English-language name[edit]

The historical English name of the country is Bohemia. This name derives from the Celtic tribe of Boii, who inhabited the area from the 4th century BC. Boiohaemum, as it was originally known in Latin, comes from the Germanic "Boi-haima", meaning "home of the Boii". The name survived all the later migrations affecting the area, including the arrival of the Slavs and the creation of the Czech state. In the 9th century, the country became officially known as the Duchy of Bohemia, changing to the Kingdom of Bohemia in the 11th century, and the Crown of Bohemia in the 14th century. A number of other names for the country have been used, including Lands of the Bohemian Crown, Czech/Bohemian lands, Bohemian Crown, the lands of the Crown of Saint Wenceslas and others.[19][20] The Bohemian state included the three historical lands: Bohemia (Čechy) in narrower meaning, Moravia (Morava) and Silesia (Slezsko). From the 14th century until 1635 it also included Upper and Lower Lusatia. The higher hierarchical status of the Bohemian region led to that name being used for the larger country, with the people and language of this country being commonly referred to as Bohemian.

The first known usage of the word Czechia in English comes from a book of 1841 by Henry and Thomas Rose, A New General Biographical Dictionary Projected and Partly Arranged.[19][5]

Shortly before the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian empire, there were proposals to use the traditional name Bohemia for the newly-formed state.[21] However, out of consideration for Slovak national aspirations, the name "Czecho-Slovakia" (later "Czechoslovakia") was adopted instead.

After the establishment of Czechoslovakia, the name Czechia appeared in English, alongside the official name, as a reference to all the Czech lands[22] and to differentiate between the Czech and Slovak parts of the state. It was used at least as early as 4 January 1925; appearing in the article "Literary History of the Czechs", published by The New York Times.[23] The name was used in the Anglophone press before the German occupation of the Czech lands in 1939.[24][25][26][27]

The current English ethnonym Czech comes from the Polish ethnonym associated with the area, which ultimately comes from the Czech word Čech.[28][29][30] The words "Czechian", "Czechish", "Czechic" and later "Czech" (using antiquated Czech spelling)[19] have appeared in English-language texts since the 17th century. During the 19th-century national revival, the word "Czech" was also used to distinguish between the Czech- and German-speaking peoples living in the country. The term "Czechia" is attested as early as 1569 in Latin[19] and 1841 in English (Poselkynie starych Przjbiehuw Czeskych – Messenger of the old Fates of Czechia).[19][5] There were other early mentions in 1856[31] and in an 1866 report on the Austro-Prussian War.[32]

Adoption of Czechia[edit]

In accordance with Resolution No. 4 I. of the UN conference on the standardization of geographic names (Geneva 1967) and Resolution No. 2 III. of the UN conference on the standardization of geographic names (Athens 1977), the Terminological Committee of the Czech Office for Surveying, Mapping, and Cadaster in cooperation with the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs standardized Czechia as the English translation of Česko in early 1993.[33]

Other names suggested in the 1990s included Czechomoravia or Czechlands.[34] However, by 2000 a short name had still not been fully adopted by the Czech authorities. At that time, the Second Secretary, Press and Politics at the British Embassy in Prague, Giles Portman, showed a willingness to accept the name Czechia. Portman said in 2000, "Czechs still use the name Česká republika rather than Česko, and the English equivalent, the Czech Republic, rather than Czechia. Were that pattern to change, we would have no problem at all with adapting accordingly. But we feel that the initiative for that change must come from the Czech side and not from us."[35][36]

In 2013, Czech president Miloš Zeman recommended the wider official use of Czechia,[37] and on 14 April 2016, the government agreed to make Czechia the official short name.[38] The new name was approved by the Czech cabinet on 2 May 2016 and registered on July 5, 2016.[39][40] In November 2016 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented recommendations on how to use the short name "Czechia" in international contexts.[41] On 1 June 2017, the geography department of the Faculty of Sciences of Charles University in Prague organised a special conference to assess the progress of the name's proliferation.[42]

The new short name was published in the United Nations UNTERM and UNGEGN country name databases on 17 May 2016.[43][44][45] In September 2016, the British Permanent Committee on Geographical Names (PCGN) recommended the use of Czechia and added it as the sole form of the country name to their list of country names.[46] On 26 September 2016, the International Organization for Standardization included the short name Czechia in the official ISO 3166 country codes list.[47][48] Google switched to Czechia on Google Maps and Android country settings in January 2017.[49][50] The name Czechia and its respective translations are also included in the Interinstitutional style guide of the European Union.[51][52]

Other languages[edit]

The equivalent of the Czech short form Česko is in routine use by most other languages. In a few cases (for example Polish Czechy, Croatian Češka and Serbian Чешка/Češka) this form had historically been used for Bohemia. Other languages adopted new short forms such as تشيكيا Tshīkyā in Arabic. In most cases, the new form has more or less completely replaced the formal name for most usages. However, usage in Spanish and French remains mixed, with the forms Chequia and Tchéquie occasionally being used alongside the longer formal names República Checa and République tchèque.


In German, the term applicable to the Czech part of Czechoslovakia used to be Tschechei, comparable to Slowakei for Slovakia. However, the usage of that term began to have negative connotations in connection with the Nazis, who used the term Rest-Tschechei "remaining Czechia" when they annexed the western parts of Czechoslovakia in early 1939. Since the restoration of Czechoslovakia and after the Second World War, the term Tschechien is in use instead, as suggested by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as German and Austrian linguists. Tschechien is a term from the 19th century that was originally used for the Czech lands that were part of Austria-Hungary.[53] The German Federal Foreign Office uses Tschechien on its official list of countries.[54]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "the Czech Republic". The United Nations Terminology Database. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  2. ^ Fallows, James. 2016. A Scandal in Czechia. The Atlantic (April 22).
  3. ^ Bardsley, Daniel (October 16, 2013). "Czech out the proposed name". The Prague Post. Archived from the original on 2014-05-08. Retrieved 2014-05-07.
  4. ^ a b Pavel Boháč, Jaroslav Kolář (1993): Jména států a jejich územních částí = Names of states and their territorial parts. Český úřad zeměměřický a katastrální, Praha.
  5. ^ a b c Rose, Hugh James; Rose, Henry John; Wright, Thomas (1 January 1841). "A New General Biographical Dictionary Projected and Partly Arranged". Fellowes. Retrieved 10 May 2017 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ UNGEGN World Geographical Names
  7. ^ "Ústava České republiky". Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  8. ^ a b, redakce Naše řeč, ÚJČ AV ČR, v. v. i. -. "Naše řeč – Česko = Česká socialistická republika". Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  9. ^ Česko (archivovaná verze z 9. března 2013), Na co se nás často ptáte, Jazyková poradna, Ústav pro jazyk český AV ČR, Středisko společných činností AV ČR, nedatováno
  10. ^ Česko, heslo v Internetové jazykové příručce, 2008–2014 Ústav pro jazyk český AV ČR, naposledy změněno 8. ledna 2012
  11. ^ Spal, Jaromír (1953). "Původ jména Čech" [Origin of the name Čech]. Naše řeč (Our Speech) (in Czech). The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. 36 (9–10): 263–267. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  12. ^ "Ústava 1968". Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  13. ^, AION CS -. "53/1990 Sb. Ústavní zákon České národní rady o změně názvu České socialistické republiky". Zákony pro lidi. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  14. ^ Looking for a name – Radio Prague (2011-01-21). Retrieved on 2011-01-27.
  15. ^ According to the official Czech list of country names (Jména států a jejich územních částí. Český úřad zeměměřický a katastralní, Praha 2009, ISBN 978-80-86918-57-0): Česko je kodifikovaný jednoslovný název státu, který se podle ústavy oficiálně nazývá Česká republika ("Česko is a standardized one-word name of the state, which is officially named Česká republika according to its constitution")
  16. ^ "Official pages". Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  17. ^ "Senát PČR: Náhled dokumentu". Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  18. ^ "Senát PČR: Náhled dokumentu". Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  19. ^ a b c d e Šitler, Jiří (July 1, 2017). "Czechia si to bude muset protrpět". Lidové noviny (in Czech). Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  20. ^ see Moryson 1626;
  21. ^ Beneš, Edvard (1917). Bohemia's case for independence. London: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-405-02734-6.
  22. ^ Munzar J., Drápela M.V.: Czechia = Bohemia + Moravia + Silesia (Moravian Geographical Report. Brno: Ústav Geoniky, 1999. s. 58-61. Moravian Geographical Report, sv. 7, č. 2.) [1], 1999
  23. ^ "New York Times: Literary history of Czechs (Jan.4, 1925)". Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  24. ^ "Soviet Note to Germany". 20 March 1939. Retrieved 10 May 2017 – via
  25. ^ "RUSSIA BETRAYED BY FROST". Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  26. ^ "Dr. Benes Broadcasts To His Countrymen - LONDON, March 15. - Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954) - 16 Mar 1940". Trove. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  27. ^ "Search Results « Chronicling America « Library of Congress".
  28. ^ "Czech definition and meaning". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 19 November 2012. C19: from Polish, from Czech Čech
  29. ^ "Czech". American Heritage Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Retrieved 24 January 2018. [Polish, from Czech Čech.]
  30. ^ "Czech - Definition in English". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University. Retrieved 11 April 2018. Origin Polish spelling of Czech Čech.
  31. ^ Notes and Queries. Oxford University Press. 1856.
  32. ^ "LATEST FROM PRUSSIA. - (From The Times' own Correspondent.) BERLIN, May, 23rd. - The Mercury (Hobart) - 21 Jul 1866". Trove. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  33. ^ Names of States and their Territorial Parts, The Terminological Committee of the Czech Office for Surveying, Mapping and Cadaster, Prague 1993.
  34. ^ Rocks, David. 1998. After 5 Years, Czech Republic Still Searching for a Short Name. Chicago Tribune (May 10), p. 4.
  35. ^ Horová E.: Record of Proceedings of the 7th Public Hearing of the Senate, May 11, 2004 (Czech) recording Portman's letter from April 4, 2000 from the British embassy in Prague
  36. ^ republiky, Kancelář Senátu Parlamentu České (1 January 2012). "Senát Parlamentu České republiky".
  37. ^ "What's in a name? Czech Republic mulls shock rebranding as Czechia". 11 October 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  38. ^ "Czechia: English speakers told to use new name for Czech Republic".
  39. ^ "Vláda schválila doplnení jednoslovného názvu Cesko v cizích jazycích do databází OSN" [The government has approved the addition of one-word Czech name in foreign languages to UN databases]. Ministerstvo zahraničních věcí České republiky (in Czech). May 5, 2016. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  40. ^ "Czechia Has Won The Czech Republic Name Debate".
  41. ^ "How to Use the Short Country name "Czechia"".
  42. ^ "Czechia: mapping progress one year on – Radio Prague". Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  43. ^ "UNGEGN World Geographical Names". United Nations.
  44. ^
  45. ^ "Short country name "Česko"/"Czechia" to be entered in UN databases".
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^ Laughland, Oliver (April 14, 2016). "Czech Republic officials say country would like to be called 'Czechia' instead". The Guardian.
  49. ^ "That's Czechia, Mate". 2 February 2018.
  50. ^ "From Staines to Swaziland: the places you've been calling by the wrong name".
  51. ^ OP/B.3/CRI, Publications Office -. "Publications Office — Interinstitutional style guide — 7.1. Countries — 7.1.1. Designations and abbreviations to use". Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  52. ^ OP/B.3/CRI, Publications Office -. "Publications Office — Interinstitutional style guide — What's new". Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  53. ^ "Zum Begriff "Tschechei": Problematik und Sprachgebrauch". Czech Tourist (Germany). Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  54. ^ "Tschechien". Auswärtiges Amt. Retrieved 2 August 2017.

External links[edit]