Names of Kosovo

Names of Kosovo

The name Kosovo (as referred to in this spelling) is the most frequently used form in English when discussing the region in question. The Albanian spelling Kosova has lesser currency. An alternative spelling - Kossovo - was frequently used until the early 20th century and before that[1] Cossovo, Italianisations of the name.



Kosovo (Serbian Cyrillic: Косово, pronounced [ˈkɔsɔvɔ]) is the Serbian neuter possessive adjective of kos (кос) "blackbird", an ellipsis for Kosovo Polje "field of the blackbirds", the site of the 1389 Battle of Kosovo Field. The name of the field was applied to an Ottoman province created in 1864. In Greek the full name of the historical region is Kossyfopèdio meaning field (-pèdio) of the blackbirds (Kossyfi-).

The use of these spelling variants is a highly sensitive political issue for both Serbs and Albanians, who regard the use of the other side's name as being a denial of their own side's territorial rights.

Kosovo is not given the definite article ("the Kosovo") in English. Albanian usage varies (Kosova vs. Kosovë). The question does not arise in Serbian, which has no definite article. French has the definite article, le Kosovo. In German, no article, or the masculine or neuter articles, are variously used (Kosovo, der Kosovo, das Kosovo). In Portuguese, both forms are commonly used - the form without the article was the preferred form when the region began to appear frequently in the news; nowadays, a trend has been observed both in Portugal and Brazil of using the definite masculine article "o Kosovo".


Metohija (Метохија, alternatively spelled "Metohia"[citation needed]) derives from the Greek word metochia (μετόχια), a term which denotes church-owned land. Historically, the estates of the Serbian Orthodox Church were located principally in this region. The name does not indicate a modern administrative district. Albanians tend not to use the name, regarding it as a statement of Serbian territorial ownership (which they reject for political reasons), and instead prefer to call the region Rrafsh i Dukagjinit, the "Dukagjin plateau".


Some Kosovan Albanians refer to Kosovo as Dardania, the name of the Roman province of Moesia that was formed in 284 AD which covered the territory of modern Kosovo and part of the Republic of Macedonia. The former Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova had been an enthusiastic backer of a "Dardanian" identity and its flag and presidential seal refer to this national identity. However, it is not recognised by any international power and the name "Kosova" remains more widely used among the Albanian population.

See also


  1. ^ "Kossovo". Volume V15, Page 916 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

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