Etymology and usage
"Mecca" is the familiar form of the English transliteration for the Arabic name of the city, although the official transliteration used by the Saudi government is Makkah, which is closer to the Arabic pronunciation. The word "Mecca" in English has come to be used to refer to any place that draws large numbers of people, and because of this some English speaking Muslims have come to regard the use of this spelling for the city as offensive. The Saudi government adopted Makkah as the official spelling in the 1980s, but is not universally known or used worldwide. The full official name is Makkah al-Mukarramah (Arabic: مَـكَّـة الْـمُـكَـرَّمَـة) or Makkatu l-Mukarramah (Arabic: مَـكَّـةُ الْـمُـكَـرَّمَـة, [ˈmæk.kæl mʊkarˈrama, ˈmæk.kætʊl-]), which means "Mecca the Honored", but is also loosely translated as "The Holy City of Mecca".
The ancient or early name for the site of Mecca is Bakkah (Arabic: بَـكَّـة, also transliterated Baca, Baka, Bakah, Bakka, Becca, Bekka, etc.). An Arabic language word, its etymology, like that of Mecca, is obscure. Widely believed to be a synonym for Mecca, it is said to be more specifically the early name for the valley located therein, while Muslim scholars generally use it to refer to the sacred area of the city that immediately surrounds and includes the Ka‘bah (Arabic: كَـعْـبَـة, Kaaba). This form is used for the name Mecca in the Quran in 3:96, while the form Mecca is used in 48:24. In South Arabic, the language in use in the southern portion of the Arabian Peninsula at the time of Muhammad, the b and m were interchangeable . Other references to Mecca in the Quran (6:92, 42:5) call it Umm al-Qurā (Arabic: أُمّ الْـقُـرَى), meaning "Mother of All Settlements"/"mother of villages". Another name of Mecca is Ṫihāmah (Arabic: تِـهَـامَـة).
Another name for Mecca, or the wilderness and mountains surrounding it, according to Arab and Islamic tradition, is Faran or Pharan, referring to the Desert of Paran mentioned in the Old Testament at Genesis 21:21. Arab and Islamic tradition holds that the wilderness of Paran, broadly speaking, is the Tihamah and the site where Ishmael settled was Mecca. Yaqut al-Hamawi, the 12th century Syrian geographer, wrote that Fārān was "an arabized Hebrew word, one of the names of Mecca mentioned in the Torah."