Vietnam - Etymology

Etymology

The name Việt Nam is a variation of "Nam Việt" (Chinese: 南越; pinyin: Nányuè; literally "Southern Việt"), a name that can be traced back to the Zhao dynasty of the 2nd century BC. The word Việt originated as a shortened form of Bách Việt (Chinese: 百越; pinyin: Bǎiyuè), a word applied to a group of peoples then living in southern China and Vietnam. The form "Vietnam" (越南) is first recorded in the 16th-century oracular poem Sấm Trạng Trình. The name has also been found on 12 steles carved in the 16th and 17th centuries, including one at Bao Lam Pagoda in Haiphong that was carved in 1558.

Between 1804 and 1813, the name was used officially by Emperor Gia Long. It was revived in the early 20th century by Phan Boi Chau's Viet Nam Vong Quoc Su ("History of the Loss of Vietnam"), and later by the Vietnamese Nationalist Party. The country was usually called Annam until 1945, when Emperor Bao Dai changed the official name back to Việt Nam. Since the use of Chinese characters was discontinued at this time, the alphabetic spelling of Vietnam is now official.

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