Europe

In classical Greek mythology, Europa (Ancient Greek: Εὐρώπη, Eurṓpē) was a Phoenician princess. The word Europe is derived from her name. The name contains the elements εὐρύς (eurús), “wide, broad” and ὤψ (ōps, gen. ὠπός, ōpós) “eye, face, countenance”, hence their composite Eurṓpē would mean “wide-gazing” or “broad of aspect”. Broad has been an epithet of Earth herself in the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion and the poetry devoted to it.


There have been attempts to connect Eurṓpē to a Semitic term for “west”, this being either Akkadian erebu meaning “to go down, set” (said of the sun) or Phoenician ‘ereb “evening, west”, which is at the origin of Arabic Maghreb and Hebrew ma’arav. Michael A. Barry, professor in Princeton University’s Near Eastern Studies Department, finds the mention of the word Ereb on an Assyrian stele with the meaning of “night, [the country of] sunset”, in opposition to Asu “[the country of] sunrise”, i.e. Asia. The same naming motive according to “cartographic convention” appears in Greek Ἀνατολή (Anatolḗ “[sun] rise”, “east”, hence Anatolia). Martin Litchfield West stated that “phonologically, the match between Europa’s name and any form of the Semitic word is very poor.” Next to these hypotheses there is also a Proto-Indo-European root *h1regʷos, meaning “darkness”, which also produced Greek Erebus.


Most major world languages use words derived from Eurṓpē or Europa to refer to the continent. Chinese, for example, uses the word Ōuzhōu (歐洲/欧洲); a similar Chinese-derived term Ōshū (欧州) is also sometimes used in Japanese such as in the Japanese name of the European Union, Ōshū Rengō (欧州連合), despite the katakana Yōroppa (ヨーロッパ) being more commonly used. In some Turkic languages the originally Persian name Frangistan (“land of the Franks”) is used casually in referring to much of Europe, besides official names such as Avrupa or Evropa. [Wikipedia]