Tenerife - Toponymy


The island's former inhabitants, the Guanches, referred to the island as Achinet or Chenet (variant spellings are found in the literature). According to Pliny the Younger, Berber king Juba II sent an expedition to the Canary Islands and Madeira and gave the Canary Islands its name because he found particularly ferocious dogs (canaria) on the island. Juba II and Ancient Romans referred to Tenerife as Nivaria, derived from the Latin words nix,nivis or nives, meaning snow, in clear reference to the snow-covered peak of the Teide volcano. On the other hand, maps dating to the 14th and 15th century, from authors like Bontier and Le Verrier refer to the island as Isla del Infierno, literally meaning Island of Hell, a reference to the volcanic activity and eruptions of Mount Teide.

Finally, Teide is also responsible for the name of the island widely used today, named by the benehaorits (natives of La Palma) derived from the words Tene ("mountain") and ife ("white"). Later, after colonisation, the hispanisation of the name resulted in the adding of a letter "r" uniting both words to obtain the name Tenerife as a result.

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