The name Singapore is an anglicization of the Malay toponym Singapura, which is widely understood to come from Sanskrit Simhapuram, meaning "lion city", from simha ("lion", ultimately from Proto-Indo-European singo) and puram ("city", related to the Greek word polis through PIE plh, meaning "stronghold"). The lion is the national animal of Singapore and has long been associated with the city-state. According to Malay mythology, it was founded by a prince who saw a lion in the area, but that's either apocryphal or erroneous because lions are not native to Southeast Asia. Many think that this creation story to replace the previous city name of Temasek was intentionally fabricated at some point during the fourteenth century to support a claim over the island or build a common identity.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.