Theories regarding the etymology of the name "Kochi" are
disputed. One suggests that the city's modern name is derived from the Malayalam word koch azhi, meaning 'small lagoon'. Another version mentions the name as derivative of the Sanskrit word Go shree which means 'prosperous with cows'. Certain ancient texts refer to the city Balapuri (Sanskrit for 'small town'), which became Cochin in course of
According to some accounts, traders from the court of the Chinese ruler Khubilai Khan gave Cochin the name of their homeland. Yet another theory is that Kochi is derived from the word Kaci meaning
'harbour'. Certain scholars claim that Cochin is derived from the term
Cocha, which is a transfiguration of the Biblical term
Cohen. Accounts by Italian explorers Nicolo Conti (15th century), and Fra Paoline in the 17th century say that it was called
Kochchi, named after the river connecting the backwaters to the sea.
After the arrival of the Portuguese, and later the British, the name Cochin stuck as the official appellation. The city reverted to a closer anglicisation of its original Malayalam name, Kochi, in 1996. However, it is still widely referred to as Cochin.