Name and etymology
The original and short-lived reference to the region was Bogdania, after Bogdan I, the founding figure of the principality. The names Moldavia and Moldova are derived from the name of the Moldova River; however, the etymology is not known and there are several variants:
- a legend mentioned in Descriptio Moldaviae by Dimitrie Cantemir links it to an aurochs hunting trip of the Maramureș voivode Dragoș and the latter's chase of a star-marked bull. Dragoș was accompanied by his female hound called Molda; when they reached the shores of an unfamiliar river, Molda caught up with the animal and was killed by it. The dog's name would have been given to the river and extended to the country.
- the old German Molde, meaning "open-pit mine"
- the Gothic Mulda (Gothic: 𐌼𐌿𐌻𐌳𐌰, Runic: ᛗᚢᛚᛞᚨ) meaning "dust", "dirt" (cognate with the English mould), referring to the river.
- a Slavic etymology (-ova is a quite common Slavic suffix), marking the end of one Slavic genitive form, denoting ownership, chiefly of feminine nouns (i.e., "that of Molda").
- A landowner named Alexa Moldaowicz is mentioned in a 1334 document as a local boyar in service to Yuriy II of Halych; this attests to the use of the name before the foundation of the Moldavian state and could be the source for the region's name.
In several early references, "Moldavia" is rendered under the composite form Moldo-Wallachia (in the same way Wallachia may appear as Hungro-Wallachia). Ottoman Turkish references to Moldavia included Boğdan Iflak (meaning "Bogdan's Wallachia") and Boğdan (and occasionally Kara-Boğdan – "Black Bogdania"). See also names in other languages.
The name of the region in other languages include French: Moldavie, German: Moldau, Hungarian: Moldva, Russian: Молдавия (Moldaviya), Turkish: Boğdan Prensliği, Greek: Μολδαβία.