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Meaning and derivation of the name Ethiopia

46 Comments · Ethiopia

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The name Ethiopia derived, from the Greek form, aithiopia, from the two words aitho, “I burn”, and ops, “face”. It would hence mean the colored man’s land — the land of the scorched faces.

The Greeks called all peoples south of Egypt (particularly the area now known as Nubia; modern usage has transferred this name further south to the land and peoples known in the late 19th and early 20th century as Abyssinia) Ethiopians.

The former name of Ethiopia is Abyssinia, a word of uncertain origin. Some people consider it comes from an Arabic word meaning “mixed” – a reference to the country’s many ethnic groups; others believe that the name belonged to an early Ethiopian tribe.

However other origin is claimed for the name by many modern writers, some of whom say that the Greeks borrowed the word from the Egyptians, and that as early as the Twelfth Dynasty the Egyptians knew the land under the name Ksh, or Kshi.

One form of this word, with the aleph prefix, Ekoshi (the Coptic eshoosh, eshôsh, ethosh) would hence be the real root-word.

Others consider that it is derived from the Arabic word atyab, the plural form of tib, which means “spices”, “perfumes” (Glaser, “Die Abissinier in Arabien und Afrika”, Munich, 1895), or from an Arabo-Sabean root word, atyub, which has the similar meaning.

Keywords: Ethiopia, aithiopia, aitho, ops, Ksh, Kshi, Ekoshi, eshoosh, eshôsh, ethosh, atyab, tib, atyub, Nubia,

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46 Comments so far ↓

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  • Dempsey Haupt

    The words mentioned here “Ksh, Kshi” must be the same as in the Bible “Cush”. Biblical scholars say that Cush refers to Ethiopia (generally).

  • Randall Carter Gray

    If the name Abyssinia means “mixed,” and if this refers a wide variation of races in ancient Ethiopia — including both white and black — how did that happen? Does this suggest to us that we indeed originated from one source namely Adam, a man of all colors, hence black, and Eve, who being created from a bone … was therefore white?!

    Can the Genesis story of creation be literally correct after all?

    Did we evolve not from apes, but from two original parents, one white and one black? It makes a lot more sense than evolution, although I’m open to other interpretations. Come and visit us at TANATA: Things (often) Are Not As They Appear

  • hana

    i wont to now for ethiopia and my cantery

  • hana

    i gatete it ethiopia in this chapetere tank yoa

  • hana

    i sayd live it

  • hana

    tank you I am hana for koria

  • D. Sr.

    I never heard of Oromo until I had a dream.
    The dream impacted me enough to find out if
    the name existed, and here I am from a dream.
    I want to know more about this Biblical/ spiritual connection I just encountered.

    Anyone…..

  • Teru Minilik

    80 different ethnic groups in Abyssinia and you only report about TWO? Come on! Why are you holding out!

  • Debisa

    Oromo is the largest and more politically dominant, initially had Gada system(8-year transfering democracy structure) tribe.emperior Hailesilasse was Oromo, even his wife was wollo Oromo.Gonder had once under Oromo’s Control(During Susinyos). Oromo once could defeat Semen tribes and easily extend to Wollo and Raya(South Tigray).Minilik’s wife was Oromo.Kenenissa Bekele, Trunesh Dibaba eve H/Gebresilasse are Oromos.Tilahun Gessese(Well Known artist), the first inventor of Amharic type writer and General Taddesse Birru(Friend and Trainer of Nilson Mandela) were Oromos. Decendants of first civilized Kushitc communities along Nile(Nubia-Egypt) are these Oromos.Still highly interfering tribe in the politics of Ethiopia are these Oromos,etc .So,shame on you for those hating Oromo.History is winner not your ugly backward perception.

  • Bryan D

    USA!!!

  • ade

    I need someone who is rooted in deep knowledge of prehistoric Ethiopia to help because what I discovered from research is having a close affinity with a nation of west Africa known globally as Yorubas. These are my findings:

    1. the word amhare/amhara seems to me a conjoined word from ‘am’ and ‘hara’meaning the free , the soldier or the beautiful one as interpreted on the internet.Yoruba has the same as ‘Omo’ ‘Ore’ ‘The sacred people’ Omo meaning people or child and Ore meaning a sort of a prehistoric deity prevalent in the present Yoruba world.

    2.Zemene Mesafin meaning the princes, is of exact meaning in the Yoruba world, bearing it as ‘Osinmole M’olaafin’ . Osin is a royal cognomen and Alaafin is also same in Yoruba world

    3. Oranmiyan is the most popular and the most successfull of Oduwa’s children. He was even the founder of the great Oyo empire of Yoruba nation but i just discovered Oromiyan tribe in ethiopia in fact the Oyo people of the Yoruba sometimes pride themselves as ‘Oromo Jogbo’

    4. A major prehistoric spot in the highlands of northcentral ethiopia is called Adwa. In fact there was a major battle fought here. The name of the founder of Yoruba race is OOduwa. His statue bear a striking resemblance with the Ahmore pple of ethiopia in an amazing arrangement of beads in style and shapes . Adwa statue has 2 ring brass around the neck followed by arrays of big ball of beads and a wedge of cowry chain! ( google Ife Art of the Yorubas)

    5. One of Odwa children who eventually became a king even decided to be called the king of kozo and the Ifa deity emphasized on this. His name Shango coincides with a prehistoric settlement between congo and Uganda border known as Ishango which might actually be a lost fragment of the ancient kush because it’s close to southern ethiopia still!

    6. This deified king Shango is very popular with his dressing holding a wand called Ose that bears an etymological traces to the ancient ethiopian cross! (i found one in the brooklyn museum!)

    7.Food in Yoruba language is called ‘Ounje ‘ and soup or stew is ‘Obe’ Infact there is a sort of food called “Akara” and ‘Ojojo’ fries which i found out is common in names only to both culture.

    8. A lot of indigenous Ethiopian names are of unprecedented similarities to Yorubas

    I have traced this amazing closeness to southern Sudan where they used to have the Meroitic dynasty and way back to ancient Egypt! There are even a strong possibility i may employ a form of forensic investigation in the future.

  • Andy

    Mustafa,

    You are ignorant.

  • DANIEL

    OROMO WILL BE A LEADER OF ALL NATIONS AND NATIONALITIES.

  • LOL@ misunderstanding

    Too much Ignorance…..let’s see the ignoranace “The former name of Ethiopia is Abyssinia, a word of uncertain origin. Some people consider it comes from an Arabic word meaning “mixed” – a reference to the country’s many ethnic groups; others believe that the name belonged to an early Ethiopian tribe.”…….Abyssinians are not Ethiopians. Sabeans are not ethipians. Queen sheaba was not ethiopian’s Queen. ethiopians are Cushite people who live in north eastern africa. Ethiopia were there before 3000 yrs ago. So u failed to define Ethiopia? Abyssinia is English or Portugese name of Habesha…… Ye Teje bet terate yezachuhe, endesewe wetechu mawerate amarchu!!…..ur ignorance is inherated from your forefathers who dare to write Qemante tribe is formed “Girare” wood.

  • christian

    yoo mustofa you shereatam somalia just stay out of this site and pull your camel and die you don count in history tell me what do you have?

  • Gondol

    dear researcher.

    Ethiopia and Abyssinia are not the same.
    Ancient Ethiopia was a land of Kush people.
    While Abyssinia is a land of Semetic people.
    Abyssinia is only a place found in North of Today’s Ethiopia and Eritria.
    Ancient Ethiopia is a place cavers a Kushtic civilization.
    Today’s Ethiopian has nothing with Ancient Ethiopia or Abyssinia. It is a country established by Colony.There for don’t mix it up and confuse people.

  • son of amhara

    galla is group of animals living in africa

  • Kashta

    Gondol, you speak without proof.

    Present day Ethiopia is NOT a land of Semitic people. The Amhara and Tigray don’t make up the largest percentage of this country. The Kushitic speaking tribes far out number them. The Oromo’s are the largest majority.

    Abyssinia is a defunct word for this land. It is called Ethiopia as the King Ezana of Axum adopted this name.

    The Kushite Empire included Ethiopians that reached Libya(West) and East of Meroe. Some of the descendants of these people are Beja, Qafar, Oromo, Sidama, Somali…All Cushitic speaking people.

    http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/98270

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  • Ethiopian

    Please read history before concluding.
    Like the old saying ” think twice before you talk.”

  • temerwi R

    i learn in compus all semetic speaker come from the modern state of yemen , the indiginous people in ethiopia is sidama and some qushtic people . the question is not this please be modern dont see history , i went to ask some question if one person live 5 years in u.s.a. he/ she is america . we are equal right in ethiopia he is oromo , tigray , amhara , southern people , we are equal plese dont see back ward we must growth our country , specially some extermit gonder and oromo think just like small boy ,

  • yohans birie

    i greatly loved my country when our prime minister initiate the dam and the near future ethiopia is change her bad history.

  • Tizibt

    I see the perversion of truth here as it was once in history!!!

  • hunde

    ethiopia doesnot represent oromo people, oromo people are democratic and respect people not like abesha who called them selves abysinian but oromo are not abesha there fore do not miss understand it, oromo are called sabboonna

  • saba

    i just wane say this to my ethiopians
    it too sad that we don’t even don’t who we are; we the people who live in ethiopia land today we are enemy our coultur and history….

  • saba

    from the bigning the biblical scolers who distroyd the intire old testment bible. and field with there own message to the world. we ethiopian are black people proud of who we are color never been a problem to us, but bible doesm’t clame us as hum disedent or the cursed one. by the way GOD him self never curse anyone. i just don’t understand why black people are desedent of hum. no one realy know who who’s desedent.

  • lueth

    The use of the word kushitic is relatively wrongly applied to mean lighter skin peoples of modern Ethiopia or Somalia, but the accient jews only called the land south Egypt kush and and the accient Egyptians called it nubia. Then came the Europeans, who hijacked the word Kush and apportioned it modern Ethiopia, who may be semitics and not kushitics.

  • Badhasa

    Dear
    All comments are good any one can enjoy the free space areas computition where no one wants them and win, but only Tigray win things and it is only one person position.Your Medrek is playing for Tigray and all too.So,what is Oromo or Amhara and others except helping others ….Every suggestions are for single runner compting himself..IHave made demoralizing…any way live in our free world that allowed for all nature and compute it…
    Yours

  • queen of all you habescha

    i think Abyssina means mix. I know from history book that the arabic people came over to north of Ethiopa (tigray) and Eritrea and mixed with us. That why we look mixed and beatifule than then the most of Etiopian.lol

  • Mikale

    Ethiopians! Stop the I am Oromo , Tigre , amahara etc… It’s total crap were the same freaking people that’s the main thing standing in Africa’s way. It is the divide of petty things like regions. The African people are all the same we can all achieve greatness if only we had someone in power that focused on our similarities rather than our small and insignificant differences.

  • Frank Liefooghe

    Some time ago I wrote about a noble people from Ethiopean origine.Their beautiful wives were very desired by the Egyptians noblesse.Even I wrote that Ramses II wife and
    Nefertiti belong to this ethiopean noblesse.When the jews were living egypt the
    ethiopeans were living also.They move to the Tchaad lake for some 600 years.They were the
    ancêtres of the Peul,who later on moved to Senegal,Niger and the Yoruba area.Who knows more about?Frank Liefooghe(info google)

  • redsea

    we ve seen a word Ethiopia in aa bibble, and we said Abyssinia is the old name for Ethiopia,,, in this case,Ethiopia and Abyssinia are not the same.
    Ancient Ethiopia was a land of Kush people.
    While Abyssinia is a land of Semetic people.
    Abyssinia is only a place found in North of Today’s Ethiopia and Eritria.
    Ancient Ethiopia is a place cavers a Kushtic civilization.
    Today’s Ethiopian has nothing with Ancient Ethiopia or Abyssinia. It is a country established by Colony.There for don’t mix it up and confuse people.

  • Mesfin

    Hi, this very nice i like very mach and i know more about ethiopia naw 10q…

  • Tadesse

    I am a christian,Ethiopian,Tigrean even Eritrean I love the Oromos,very beautiful people,any one in that regine who says I own this is a liar.

  • Tadesse

    Frank Liefooghe,there is some sence of trueth,I think as them selves some times say the Agames are the origine of all the people of red see area including the Amara tribe,not only that there are people from Oromo who look like the Abisinians,only politics and ignoranc is dividing us.I want to thank you mr.Frank Lieooghe for you are showing us to stay out of this evel tribalism,the Tigreans ,except the corrupt people in power now,are the most upright people who loves every body,with out the Tigreans,there was no civilized Ethiopia.

  • who are u

    wtf oh habesha i know wat u guys look lk just go to gonder nd gojjam u will wat dey look lk,we know ur face look lk a mice scooterd in water just go to ur mama home kick her ass u damp ass ,nd everybody if its asked who is the most beutifil ppl in ethiopia they say oromo coz of d truth look our kamise ,our jimma girl s find it

  • Ami

    I love Ethiopian and the People

  • nootropic

    Everything is very open with a precise description of the challenges. It was definitely informative. Your site is very useful. Thanks for sharing!

  • Louis Cunningham

    Нeya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and help others like you aided me.

  • JIBBAA ROOROO

    SEEN a name Ethiopia In a bible totally different .Leave that for History .NOW IS the moment of reality and clearvoyance.So DUUGAN KANA FAKKATA Kan rafes dammaqe, kan riphes socho’e

    Eenyummaasaas bare, hundumtuu of ta’e

    Sin dukkana seetu nuyiif dur bari’ee

    Dhaloonni hin gowwoomu lammata deebi’ee

    Ari’a nama mitii bineensuu waa beeka

    Kaleessarraa bareetu borii isaaf akeeka

    Luubbuu kenna malee ciisee hin laatu harka

    Dhugaan jiru kana, isa beekuu qabdu

    Kanaa achi ofumaan yeroo keessan gubdu

    Lakki yoo jettanis, jabaadhaa itti fufaa

    Seenaa sobaas uumaa, hololas hafuufaa

    Kun hojii keessanoo, ari’a hin kaane lafaa

    Silas eenyu dhadhaa baasa raasee hancufa bofaa

  • JIBBAA ROOROO

    HERE WE SEE tribe in Ethiopia as a Category so AMHARA,ETHIOPIA,OROMO what’s going on here who’s Amhara and who’s Ethiopia.Come guys Ethio Historian >teach the reality to people about they are NO country is formed without a Native indigenous people .Therefore ETHIOPIS and Abyssinia both are foreign language ,so leave to the originally native of that Land as we see written over today oromo are above 40% and remain are the other .WHY DONT WE CALL OROMIYAA instead Of Ethiopia. If we really feel same people in one country .IS that matter if so >>>??leave the rest to the History Owners

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