Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How Brazil got its name.

Most of the theories on Brazil's etymology are fairly muddled. Wikipedia says, "Traditionally, the word "Brazil" comes from brazilwood, a timber tree that many sailors traded from Brazilian regions to Europe in the 16th century.[18] In Portuguese brazilwood is called pau-brasil, with the word brasil commonly given the etymology "red like an ember", formed from Latin brasa ("ember") and the suffix -il (from -iculum or -ilium).This theory is taught as official in schools of Brazil and Portugal." Somehow it's deeply unsatisfying. I am of the view that the tree is not distinctive enough to justify naming an entire region after it. Clearly, there's a need for an alternate theory. This is where Sanskrit can help. Bri/Bru, as we now know, means hill. And Shil or Shila means rock. What would you call a place where the terrain is predominantly rocky? Brushil, right? And that's how Brazil was born.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Guess that rules out my theory of a zillion bras.