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Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Alba pronounced [ˈaɫ̪apə]) is a country that occupies the northern third of the island of Great Britain and forms part of the United Kingdom.

The name of Scotland is derived from the Greek Scotos, the term applied to Gaels. The word Scoti (or Scotti) means dark because of the mist.It is found in Latin texts from the fourth century describing a tribe which sailed from Ireland to raid Roman Britain. It came to be applied to all the Gaels. It is not believed that any Gaelic groups called themselves Scoti in ancient times, except when writing in Latin. Oman derives it from Scuit, proposing a meaning of 'a man cut off', suggesting that a Scuit was not a Gael as such but one of a renagade band settled in the part of Ulster which became the kingdom of Dál Riata but 'Scuit' only exists in Old Irish as 'buffoon/laughing-stock' The 19th century author Aonghas MacCoinnich of Glasgow proposed that Scoti was derived from a Gaelic ethnonym (proposed by MacCoinnich) Sgaothaich from sgaoth "swarm", plus the derivational suffix -ach (plural -aich) However, this proposal to date has not appeared in mainstream place-name studies.

The Late Latin word Scotia (land of the Scot(t)i), although initially used to refer to Ireland, by the 11th century at the latest was being used to refer to (Gaelic-speaking) Scotland north of the river Forth. Some of the earliest surviving documents to mention the word Scotland include versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle from Abingdon, Worcester and Laud, written during the 11th Century, which state that prior to the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, Earl Tostig had sought refuge in Scotland under the protection of Malcolm III, King of Scots. 'Scotland' was employed alongside Albania or Albany, from the Gaelic Alba. The use of the words Scots and Scotland to encompass all of what is now Scotland became common only in the Late Middle Ages.

In a modern political context, the word Scot is applied equally to all inhabitants of Scotland, regardless of their ancestral ethnicity. However, a 2006 study published by the University of Edinburgh suggest that segments of Scottish society continue to distinguish between those who claim to be Scots on ethnic grounds and those who claim to be Scots on the grounds of civic commitment. "Scots" is also used to refer to the Scots language, which a large proportion of the Scottish population speak to a greater or lesser degree.

The Scots- and Irish-Gaelic name for Scotland, Alba, derives from the same Celtic root as the name Albion, which properly designates the entire island of Great Britain but, by implication as used by foreigners, sometimes the country of England, Scotland's southern neighbour which covers the largest portion of the island of Britain. The term arguably derives from an early Indo-European word meaning 'white', generally held to refer to the cliffs of white chalk around the English town of Dover, ironically located at the furthest end of Great Britain from Scotland itself. Others take it to come from the same root as "the Alps", possibly being an ancient word for mountain and therefore related to the north end of Britain.

Caledonia is an old Latin name for Scotland, deriving from the Caledonii tribe. It is unknown what name the Caledonians used of themselves, though it was possibly based on a Brythonic word for "hard "or "tough" (represented by the modern Welsh caled).

References



See also



  • Origins of the Kingdom of Alba


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