The classical name Tauris or Taurica is from the Greek Ταυρική (Taurikḗ), after the peninsula's Scytho-Cimmerian inhabitants, the Tauri.
An alternative name is Κιμμερία (Kimmería). Strabo (Geography vii 4.3, xi. 2.5), Polybius, (Histories 4.39.4), and Ptolemy (Geographia. II, v 9.5) refer variously to the Strait of Kerch as the Κιμμερικὸς Βόσπορος (Kimmerikos Bosporos, romanized spelling, Bosporus Cimmerius), its easternmost part as the Κιμμέριον Ἄκρον (Kimmerion Akron, Roman name: Promontorium Cimmerium, as well as to the city of Cimmerium and whence the name of the Kingdom of the Cimmerian Bosporus (Κιμμερικοῦ Βοσπόρου).
The earliest recorded use of the toponym “Crimea” for the penninsula occurred between 1315-1329 AD by the Arab writer Abū al-Fidā where he recounts a political fight in 1300-1301 AD resulting in a rival's decapitation and having “sent his head to the Crimea”.
The name "Crimea" follows the Italian form from the Crimean Tatar name (Crimean Tatar: Къырым, translit. Kirim/Qırım) for the city which is now called Stary Krym which served as a capital of the Crimean province of the Golden Horde. The name of the capital was extended to the entire peninsula at some point during Ottoman suzerainty. The origin of the word Qırım is uncertain. Suggestions argued in various sources include:
a derivation from the Turkic term qirum ("fosse, trench"), from qori- ("to fence, protect").
Other suggestions either unsupported or contradicted by sources, apparently based on similarity in sound, include:
a derivation from the GreekCremnoi (Κρημνοί, in post-classical Koiné Greek pronunciation, Crimni, i.e., "the Cliffs", a port on Lake Maeotis (Sea of Azov) cited by Herodotus in The Histories 4.20.1 and 4.110.2). However, Herodotus identifies the port not in Crimea, but as being on the west coast of the Sea of Azov. No evidence has been identified that this name was ever in use for the peninsula.
The Turkic term (e.g. in Turkish: Kırım) is related to the Mongolian appellation kerm "wall", but sources indicate that the Mongolian appellation of the Crimean peninsula of Qaram is phonetically incompatible with kerm/kerem and therefore deriving from another original term.
In English usage since the early modern period the Crimean Khanate is referred to as Crim Tartary. The Italian form Crimea (and "Crimean peninsula") also becomes current during the 18th century, gradually replacing the classical name of Tauric Peninsula in the course of the 19th century. The omission of the definite article in English ("Crimea" rather than "the Crimea") became common during the later 20th century.