Could Wales officially change its name to Cymru?

An online petition calling for Wales to be known as Cymru has amassed more than 10,000 signatures.

Swansea, UK. 05th Dec, 2023. A Welsh flag ahead of the game. Wales women v Germany women, UEFA Women's Nations league, group C match at the Stadium, South Wales on Tuesday 5th December 2023. Editorial use only, pic by Andrew Orchard/Andrew Orchard sports photography/Alamy Live news Credit: Andrew Orchard sports photography/Alamy Live News
There is an ongoing debate about changing the name of Wales. (Alamy)

A petition calling for Wales to change its name to Cymru is to be considered for debate in the country's parliament.

More than 10,000 people have now signed the online petition which calls for the name "Wales" to be abolished.

Now that it has passed that total, it will be considered by the Petitions Committee for a debate in Senedd Cymru.

Yahoo News UK looks at whether Wales could change its name to Cymru.

What is Cymru?

Put simply, Cymru is the Welsh name for Wales. Pronounced "kemri", the word descends from the Celtic word "combrogi", which means "fellow countrymen" or "compatriot".

It is thought it came into use before the 7th century, and would be spelt "Kymry" or "Cymry" in reference to both the people and their homeland.

Why is Wales not called Cymru?

According to Dr Dylan Foster Evans, head of the school of Welsh at Cardiff University, most of the country's place names are in the Welsh language, known in Welsh as Cymraeg.

However, other names have origins in English, Irish, French, Flemish, Latin, Norse, British or Brittonic, the language spoken in Wales 2,000 years ago that developed over the centuries into Welsh.

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Dr Foster Evans said: "The English name, Wales, derives from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning 'foreigners', or in particular those foreigners who were under the influence of the Roman empire."

He said Cymru comes from the plural of Cymro, meaning a "Welshman".

The Welsh name for Wales is Cymru, which comes from the plural of Cymro, 'a Welshman'. The word Cymro is thought to derive from an earlier Brittonic word, combrogos – 'a compatriot' or 'a fellow-countryman'.

What is the petition?

A petition was launched on the Senedd website calling for Wales to change its name to Cymru.

The petition is titled, "Abolish the name 'Wales' and make 'CYMRU' the only name for our country" and was set up by Arfon Jones.

It states: "Wales is a name imposed on Cymru and is essentially not a Welsh word at all.

Early evening view along the trail along the ridge between Pen Y Fan and Corn Du in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Powys, Wales, UK. Llyn Cwm Llwch, a glacial mountain lake, can be seen in the valley.
The Brecon Beacons National Park changed its name to Bannau Brycheiniog last year. (Getty Images)

"The world knows about Wales because of its English connection since 1282. Hardly anyone has heard of Cymru or realises that we have our own unique language and culture which is totally different from the other countries within the United Kingdom."

The petition has gathered more than 10,000 signatures, meaning the Senedd's Petitions Committee will consider it for a debate.

What has the reaction been?

The petition has sparked strong opinions on both sides of the debate, with many Welsh people happy to retain its current name, while others feel the change would more accurately reflect their country's identity.

Welsh Conservatives leader Andrew RT Davies is against the move, saying: "I’d prefer to see petitions highlighting where Welsh Labour government are failing on education, failing on the economy and failing on the Health Service.

Andrew RT Davies, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, speaking during the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham. Picture date: Sunday October 2, 2022.
Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, is against changing the name of Wales to Cymru. (PA)

“Let’s not try and put both languages against each other, let’s celebrate both languages and celebrate the bilingualism of Wales.”

But Rachel Garrick, a Labour politician on Monmouthshire County Council, told Sky News: "It is important for Welsh culture and identity to utilise the Welsh names.

"You've seen it across lots of parts of the world now where countries are adopting their native names rather than the anglicised names.

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More Wales stories - click above

"And I think, particularly for Wales, that's got the strongest native language in the UK, next to English, it's really important to do so."

Gwern Gwynfil, a campaigner for Welsh independence, agrees.

He told Nation.Cymru: “There is nothing unusual about nations deciding on their own official names. In no way does this force others to change the names they use but it is a clear and confident expression of identity in a modern international context.

“This is a normal thing for nations to do. Perhaps the more relevant issue here is why are some people so viscerally against the idea? What are they afraid of?”

Have there been other Welsh name changes lately?

Last April, the Brecon Beacons national park announced that it had officially adopted its Welsh name, Bannau Brycheiniog.

A welsh valley in Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia changed its national park name to Eryri in 2022. (Alamy)

The park said it made the change to "better reflect the park and the world we live in today".

It followed the decision by bosses at Snowdonia to change its name the previous year - the mountain is now known as Yr Wyddfa the national park as Eryri.

What other countries have changed their names recently?

If Wales did change its name, it would be following in the footsteps of Turkey, which became Türkiye in 2022, and the Czech Republic, which has been using the name Czechia since 2016.