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Countries by Namesake

Guess the English-language name of the country based on its name's derivation.
Quiz by kalbahamut
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First submittedJanuary 27, 2014
Last updatedDecember 10, 2018
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Named for this...
Answer
The Qin Dynasty
China
Amerigo Vespucci
USA
Simon Bolivar
Bolivia
Chinese pronunciation of words meaning "sun origin"
Japan
Christopher Columbus
Colombia
The Angles (people)
England
Iroquoian word for "village"
Canada
Medieval state of Rus
Russia
Words meaning "the northward route"
Norway
The ruling family
Saudi Arabia
Named for this...
Answer
Word meaning "island"
Iceland
The Aryans (people)
Iran
King Philip II
Philippines
The equator
Ecuador
"White Russia"
Belarus
A tree whose name means "red" in Portuguese
Brazil
Latin/French/Greek corruption of words meaning "land of the soul"
Egypt
Jacob (of the Bible)
Israel
"Land of high mountains" in Taíno
Haiti
Latin for "citizens of Rome"
Romania
+1
level 73
Jan 27, 2014
Both this quiz and the one on American states are interesting. I didn't get Haiti and Egypt but I'm surprised only a third were able to guess Saudi Arabia.
+1
level 76
Jan 27, 2014
Haiti would be pretty impossible to guess unless you know where the Tai'no people/language come from. There aren't really any high mountains there. At least not by international standards.

The clue for Saudi Arabia I would have made more specific but I think that it actually is the only country in the world named for its ruling family.
+1
level 76
Mar 21, 2014
Unless you count full names and not just short or conventional ones- in which case there is The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and possibly some others.
+1
level 76
Apr 14, 2014
I just read that apparently the traditional version of the etymology of China is false. Yet that's the most-guessed answer here. The English name for China apparently comes from some ancient Sanskrit word whose meaning has been lost to antiquity.
The Chinese name for China translates into "Middle Kingdom," I'm sure most people would probably get that. Maybe I'll do a follow-up to this quiz about country name namesakes in their native language.
+1
level 76
May 7, 2014
Maybe this would make a good hint for the next April Fool's Day Quiz: "Country named for the Qin Dynasty"
+1
level 60
Nov 18, 2014
Zhongguo is "China" in Mandarin. It's comprised of two characters, "middle/inside" and "country". China believed they had all the resources needed to sustain life within their borders and were therefore the center of civilization. This is the origin of the name as far as I can remember (BA in Chinese History from way back when...)
+1
level 76
Nov 18, 2014
Yes I know the Chinese name for China translates to "Middle Kingdom," though unless new evidence has surfaced regarding the etymology of the English name for the country, I'm pretty sure it's still in dispute. Nobody really knows for sure, though the most commonly known theory, that it was named after the Qin Dynasty, is usually not accepted by academics.
+2
level 44
Aug 5, 2014
I'm having trouble verifying your Egypt etymology. I'm seeing that it comes from "Hwt-ka-ptah" in an ancient tongue meaning 'house of the god Ptah". source: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/kmt.htm As for the saudi question I was completely thrown. I thought I was looking for a country's name meaning "ruling family." Maybe you could say "ruling family's name"? Either way, great quiz. Maybe you could do a Part 2 sometime?
+1
level 76
Aug 6, 2014
Thought about it but I think I've already got most of the good ones. I may delve a little deeper at some point and see if I can come up with more.
+1
level 57
Oct 3, 2014
Brazil doesn't mean "red". However, the tree Pau Brazil produces the pigment red. Red in portuguese is "Vermelho".
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level 76
Oct 3, 2014
I was trying to keep the clue short. The name for the Brazilwood tree in Portuguese is pau-brazil, the word Brazil is from Latin and often translated as "red like an ember" though a more literal translation would be "ember-like." I assumed most people would get it just based on the fact that it has something to do with Portuguese.
+1
level 68
Feb 4, 2015
The Icelandic word for Iceland, Ísland, may look like "island", but it actually just means "ice land." The most credible explanation is that it was named for drift ice in a fjord. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_country-name_etymologies#I Also, the word "island" only has that silent s in there because 15th century scholars thought it should be associated with the similar but etymologically unrelated word "isle." Spellings truer to the word's origin include "iland" and "ighland".
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level 76
Feb 4, 2015
Interesting. But I wasn't just making things up. It looks like you're right about the etymology is the Icelandic word Island (accent above I), but then this page lists several other Icelandic names for the country including one that does in fact mean "island" and is similar. Maybe that's where the alternate explanation came from. But since the Latin name is based on the old Norse for ice + land you're probably right. But could have made it's way into English a variety of different ways given England's history.
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level 58
Mar 28, 2015
You should also accept Equatorial Guinea for the "equator"one. I never guessed Ecuador
+1
level 76
Mar 28, 2015
But the Equatorial part of Equatorial Guinea is just an adjective modifying the name Guinea, to differentiate the country from Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guiana, Guyana, New Guinea, and so on. Because Europeans love naming things Guinea.
+1
level 70
Nov 18, 2015
The clue for Saudi Arabia also works for Luxembourg
+1
level 76
Nov 19, 2015
You appear to be correct. I wasn't aware. If I ever get around to updating this I might add a second answer or fix the clue.
+1
level 73
Oct 3, 2016
and Liechtenstein !
+2
level 54
Nov 14, 2017
I second Liechtenstein, but not Luxembourg. I believe The ruling house of Luxembourg is Nassau.
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