Cymru is the name of the country in the Welsh language. The word comes from the Brythonic language (a Celtic language spoken by people across Britain until about 500AD). “Combrogos” was their word for a compatriot. This is the meaning of “Cymro”, a Welshman; “Cymraes” is a Welshwoman. The plural form was “combrogi” which has given us “Cymry” – the Welsh people.
At one time, “Cymry” was also the word for the country, but the spelling later changed to “Cymru”.
Cumbria in north-west England has the same meaning as Cymru. This area, together with the north-east of England and southern Scotland is known as Yr Hen Ogledd (The Old North); this is where the earliest known Welsh poetry was composed.
Cambria – the Latin name for Wales – also comes from the Celtic word.
The English name for the country comes from Anglo-Saxon, the language of the Germanic tribes of Europe. Their word for Celtic people was “walas” or “wealas”; it means “foreign” or “foreigners”. It is thought that the word derives from the name of a Celtic tribe called the Voltae.
When the Anglo-Saxons came to Britain, they used the term to refer to the Celts of Britain (the Brythons). The name of the people eventually became the name of that part of Britain where the Brythonic speaking people still lived – Wales.