What is the etymology of the Philippines?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The etymology of the name of the Philippines is based in Spanish and, ultimately, in Greek.  “The Philippines” was not the native name for the archipelago. In fact, there was (as far as is known) no native name for the archipelago as a whole.  This is likely due to the fact that the islands were never united under one rule (again, so far as is known) until the Spanish arrived.

The Philippines got their name from the man who was the crown prince of Spain at the time that the islands were first examined closely by the Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos.  He explored the islands in the 1540s.  At that time, he named them after Philipp, who was heir to the throne of Spain.  Philipp later became Philipp II of Spain and reigned from 1554 to 1598.

Philipp’s own name comes from Greek.  It was the name of the father of Alexander the Great.  In this way, the name “The Philippines” comes from the name of a Spanish king who, in turn, got it from the name of a Greek king.