On the Etymology of Self-Designation of Georgians - “Kartveli”


  • Shalva Gabeskiria Free University of Tbilisi


Kartveli, Kortu, etymology, Kartukhi, correspondence


The etymology of self-designation of Georgians has not been solved definitely, even though a number of articles have been devoted to the etymology of the term. There does not exist a generally shared opinion around the issue. A review of the history of research into the ethnonym “Kartveli” points to the divergence of views. “Kartveli” is explained by scholars on the basis of evidence of Kartvelian languages.

The present paper is an attempt at an etymological analysis of this term. The dominant view in Georgian scientific literature is that the Zan equivalent of the word “Kartveli” is Megrelian “Kortu”. So Georgian -el denotes the origin in some words, and in Zan, the corresponding suffix in the group of words is Megrelian -u.

We do not share this view. In our opinion, “Kartveli” is derived from the ancient Georgian ethnotoponym “Kartu”, which denotes Georgia – the country of Georgians, plus -el – the old Georgian vowel u passes into the consonant v.  

So, the Zan equivalent of the old Georgian “Kartu” – is Megrelian “Kortu”. Besides, the term “Kartukhi” is attested in Xenophon’s “Anabasis”. The archaic suffix kh is attested in Georgian ethnonyms Meskh-i, Kolkh-i, Taokh-i, and Javakh-i. To this category of Georgian ethnonyms also belongs the Georgian “Kartukhi”.



How to Cite

Gabeskiria, Shalva. 2022. “On the Etymology of Self-Designation of Georgians - ‘Kartveli’”. Free University Journal of Asian Studies, no. 4 (December). Tbilisi. https://journals.org.ge/index.php/asianstudies/article/view/111.