The name Armenia enters English via Latin, from Ancient Greek Ἀρμενία. The Armenian endonym for the Armenian people and country is hayer and hayk’, respectively. The exact etymology of the name is unknown, and there are various speculative attempts to connect it to older toponyms or ethnonyms.
The earliest attestations of the exonym Armenia date around the 6th century BC. In his trilingual Behistun Inscription, Darius I the Great of Persia refers to Urashtu (in Babylonian) as Armina (in Old Persian) and Harminuya (in Elamite). In Greek, Αρμένιοι "Armenians" is attested from about the same time, perhaps the earliest reference being a fragment attributed to Hecataeus of Miletus (476 BC). Herodotus, in c. 440 BC, said "the Armenians were equipped like Phrygians, being Phrygian colonists" (7.73) (Ἀρμένιοι δὲ κατά περ Φρύγες ἐσεσάχατο, ἐόντες Φρυγῶν ἄποικοι.). Xenophon describes many aspects of Armenian village life and hospitality. He relates that the people spoke a language that to his ear sounded like the language of the Persians.
Although disputed and unproven, some speculations on the exact origin of the Armenia exonym have been proposed.
It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources. The earliest is from an inscription which mentions Armânum together with Ibla as territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in c. 2250 BC identified with an Akkadian colony in the Diarbekr region. However, many historians, such as Wayne Horowitz, identify Armanî which was conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad, with the Syrian city of Aleppo and not with the Armenian Highland.
Minni (מנּי) is also a Biblical name of the region, appearing in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 51:27) alongside Ararat and Ashchenaz, probably the same as the Minnai of Assyrian inscriptions, corresponding to the Mannai. Armenia is interpreted by some as ḪARMinni, that is, "the mountainous region of the Minni".
There have been further speculations as to the existence of a Bronze Age tribe of the Armens (Armans, Armani; Armenian: Արմեններ Armenner, Առամեններ Aṙamenner), either identical to or forming a subset of the Hayasa-Azzi. In this case, Armenia would be an ethnonym rather than a toponym.
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Armenian tradition has an eponymous ancestor, Aram, a lineal descendent of Hayk (Հայկ), son of Harma and father of Ara the Beautiful (according to classical Armenian historian Moses of Chorene). Aram is sometimes equated with Arame of Urartu, the earliest known king of Urartu. The endonym Hayk’ (from Classical Armenian) in the same tradition is traced to Hayk himself.
Modern terms for Armenians and Armenia in Armenian and neighboring languages:
|Armenian||հայեր (hayer)||Հայաստան (Hayastan), Հայք (Hayk’)|
|Arabic||أرمن (Arman)||أرمينيا (Armīniyā)|
|Aramaic||ܐܪܡܐܢܥ (Armānī)||ܐܪܡܝܢܝܐ (Armīniyā)|
|Persian||ارمنی (Armani)||ارمنستان (Armanestan)|
|Georgian||სომხები (Somkhebi)||სომხეთი (Somkhet'i)|
|Greek||Αρμένιοι (Arménios)||Αρμενία (Armenía)|
|Hebrew||ארמנים (Armenim)||ארמניה (Armeniya)|
|Russian||армяне (armyane)||Армения (Armeniya)|