Each nation has its own name that presents the pride of the country. Before a Vietnam tour, have you ever wondered What does Vietnam mean? If you have no idea, don’t worry! This article will show you the full package of information about the meaning of the word “Vietnam” in history khổng lồ help you have insight knowledge in the chất lượng historical and cultural characteristics of this country.

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What does “Vietnam” Mean in English?

The name “Vietnam” is simply understood as a combination of national race “Viet” và geographical location of this beautiful land “Nam” (in the south) expressing self-respect, independent spirit và negating the imposition and contempt of the Chinese. However, the meaning of “Vietnam” does not stop at that description. Let’s go further!


Based on the vestiges remained in the ancient objects such as the bronze drums, the sun is tightly attached to lớn the Vietnamese culture, related lớn the weather distribution in a year. Besides, the image of the men in feathered outfits carrying weapons is very popular on the bronze drums. It can be speculated that the ancient Vietnamese dressed up like birds in the festivals. This is probably the symbol of the legend that human ancestors are the fairies that can fly in the sky. Combined with the dragon, it must have meant ” the children of the Fairy và the Dragon” – the pride và the unique characteristic of Vietnamese culture.

In conclusion, if the sun represents the civilization, the dragon & the birdmen are supposed lớn be “the children of the Fairy và the Dragon”, then the meaning of the word “Viet” may be the civilization of the children of the Fairy and the rồng which is the civilization created by the ancient Vietnamese.

When was the Name “Vietnam” Officially Used?

In 1802, after the throne, Nguyen Anh (King Gia Long) sent two delegations khổng lồ China. A delegation led by the Ministry of Households was Trinh Hoai Duc as the minister, lớn bring back the appointment letter that the Qing Dynasty gave for the Tay Son Dynasty. The other delegation led by the Military Minister – Le quang đãng Dinh was asked lớn appoint Nguyen Anh as the king và set the official name of the country – phái mạnh Viet.


Also in 1802, the Qing Dynasty accepted the request for the name of the country as Vietnam. But until 1804, the Guards of Guangxi – Qi Bo Sam was sent khổng lồ bring the appointment letter and the national seal to lớn Thang Long – the ancient name of Hanoi to make a ceremony for Nguyen Anh.

As a result, the national name Vietnam was accepted in 1802, but till 1804, it was officially used và recognized in terms of diplomacy.

Why is Vietnam Two Words?

In Vietnamese, Vietnam is separated into “Viet” and “Nam”. In English, they are combined together và become Vietnam. Both of “Viet Nam” and “Vietnam” are correct but the second one is used more frequently.

The Former Names of Vietnam throughout History

Historical periodsNames of VietnamThe Dynasty/Regime
2879 – 2524 ADXich QuyHong Bang Dynasty
2524 – 258 ADVan LangHong Bang Dynasty
257 – 207 ADAu LacThuc Dynasty
40 – 43 BCLinh NamTrung Sisters
544 – 602 & 938 – 968 BCVan XuanEarly Ly Dynasty và Ngo Dynasty
968 – 1054 BCDai co VietDinh Dynasty và Early Le Dynasty
1054 – 1400 BCDai VietLy Dynasty và Tran Dynasty
1400 – 1407 BCDai NguHo Dynasty
1428 – 1804 BCDai VietLater Le Dynasty & Tay Son Dynasty
1804 – 1839 BCVietnamNguyen Dynasty
1839 – 1945 BCDai Nam
1945 – 1976 BCDemocratic Republic of VietnamThe Socialism
1976 – PresentSocialist Republic of Vietnam (Vietnam)The Socialism

According to many historical Vietnamese experts, the name of this country has been changed more than 20 times since the country was established in the primordial period. Some of the names were derived either unofficially or officially lớn define an area or region belonging khổng lồ Vietnam.

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To understand what does Vietnam mean, one must track back to when the country"s land was first established. Even though the word “Vietnam” was first mentioned in many ancient documents recorded by historians in the 14th century, it only became the nation"s official name in 1840. Many people traveling lớn Vietnam might wonder what Vietnam means, và we hope this article will help to lớn answer "What does Vietnam mean?".

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The Meaning of Vietnam

As a matter of fact, “Vietnam” is a combination of two Vietnamese words, “Viet” in ancient Vietnamese language meaning preeminent or descendants of a rồng soaring to lớn the sun, “Nam” means of the southern territory.

However, the word "Viet" can also be understood as moving away from something in ancient Chinese. Some people believe that Vietnam stands for a group of people in ancient trung quốc (before the formation of the Chinese Empire) who moved to a new land in the southern area (from the south of the Yangtze River lớn the northern borders of Vietnam today in the Bronze Age).


The group of Viet people was the ancestors of Vietnamese nowadays

These people, the Viet ethnic group, had created a distinctive cultural identity at tuy vậy Hong (the Red River Basin) in Vietnam nowadays và continuously fought against the powerful Chinese Empire lớn protect their territory for more than 1,000 years. They were the Vietnamese’s ancestors in the present day.

Read about Different Vietnam Ethnicities

When the Name Vietnam was First Recorded

In 1802, the word “Vietnam” was adopted officially by Emperor Gia Long in the Nguyen Dynasty. The king first named the country “Nam Viet”, but this name was similar to lớn another ancient name in China, so he changed it lớn “Viet Nam”. However, after succeeding in the reign in 1834, Emperor Minh mang changed the nation"s name lớn “Dai Nam” which means a large/great country in the south. The word “Vietnam” was no longer popular until it was mentioned again in historical books by patriots and historians at the end of the 19th century.


This picture depicting the portrait of Gia Long

On March 9th, 1945, a Japanese coup took over Vietnam from the French colonial government và authorized Emperor Bao Dai, the last king of feudatory dynasties in Vietnam, lớn control the country. He declared the country as “De Quoc Viet Nam”. After the Japanese government"s defeat in the August Revolution và Emperor Bao dẻo was forced to lớn give up his position, President Ho đưa ra Minh officially read the Independence Declaration of Vietnam on September 2nd, 1945, và asserted the nation"s name as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In 1976, Congress institutionalized the name và replaced it with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which remains Vietnam"s official name present day.


Ho đưa ra Minh officially declared the independence of Vietnam

Conclusion on What does Vietnam Mean

With the answer to lớn "What does Vietnam mean?" mentioned above, the Vietnamese proudly take pride in the special cultural origin as well as ancient traditions & the great country of the people in a southern land. Vietnamese are always hospitable và friendly, welcoming visitors & adventurers khổng lồ the country.

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