ToponymySee also: Toponymy of England
The name "England" is derived from the Old English name Englaland, which means "land of the Angles". The Angles were one of the Germanic tribes that settled in Great Britain during the Early Middle Ages. The Angles came from the Angeln peninsula in the Bay of Kiel area of the Baltic Sea. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first known use of "England" to refer to the southern part of the island of Great Britain occurs in 897, and its modern spelling was first used in 1538.
The earliest attested mention of the name occurs in the 1st century work by Tacitus, Germania, in which the Latin word Anglii is used. The etymology of the tribal name itself is disputed by scholars; it has been suggested that it derives from the shape of the Angeln peninsula, an angular shape. How and why a term derived from the name of a tribe that was less significant than others, such as the Saxons, came to be used for the entire country and its people is not known, but it seems this is related to the custom of calling the Germanic people in Britain Angli Saxones or English Saxons. In Scottish Gaelic, another language which developed on the island of Great Britain, the Saxon tribe gave their name to the word for England (Sasunn), and the Welsh use "Saesneg" - a form derived from "Saxon" - to describe the English language.
An alternative name for England is Albion. The name Albion originally referred to the entire island of Great Britain. The earliest record of the name appears in the Aristotelian Corpus, specifically the 4th century BC De Mundo: "Beyond the Pillars of Hercules is the ocean that flows round the earth. In it are two very large islands called Britannia; these are Albion and Ierne". The word Albion (Ἀλβίων) or insula Albionum has two possible origins. It either derives from a cognate of the Latin albus meaning white, a reference to the white cliffs of Dover, the only part of Britain visible from the European Continent, or from the phrase in Massaliote Periplus, the "island of the Albiones". Albion is now applied to England in a more poetic capacity. Another romantic name for England is Loegria, related to the Welsh word for England, Lloegr, and made popular by its use in Arthurian legend.
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