TY-land or /
RTGS: Prathet Thai, pronounced
[pratʰêːt tʰaj] (
listen)), officially the Kingdom of Thailand (
RTGS: Ratcha-anachak Thai
[râːtt͡ɕʰaʔaːnaːt͡ɕàk tʰaj] (
listen)), formerly known as Siam (
[sajǎːm]), is a country at the centre of the
Indochinese peninsula in
Etymology of "Siam"
The country has always been called
Mueang Thai by its citizens. By outsiders prior to 1949, it was usually known by the
exonym Siam (
RTGS: Sayam, pronounced
[sajǎːm], also spelled Siem, Syâm, or Syâma). The word Siam has been identified with the
Sanskrit Śyāma (
श्याम, meaning "dark" or "brown"). The names
Shan and A-hom seem to be variants of the same word. The word Śyâma is possibly not its origin, but a learned and artificial distortion.
 Another theory is the name derives from Chinese: "Ayutthaya emerged as a dominant centre in the late fourteenth century. The Chinese called this region Xian, which the Portuguese converted into Siam." (Baker and Phongpaichit, A History of Thailand, 8) A further possibility is that
Mon-speaking peoples migrating south called themselves 'syem' as do the autochthonous
Mon-Khmer-speaking inhabitants of the
The signature of King
Mongkut (r. 1851–1868) reads SPPM (Somdet Phra Poramenthra Maha) Mongkut King of the Siamese, giving the name "Siam" official status until 24 June 1939 when it was changed to Thailand.
 Thailand was renamed to Siam from 1946 to 1948, after which it again reverted to Thailand.
Etymology of "Thailand"
George Cœdès, the word Thai (
ไทย) means "free man" in the Thai language, "differentiating the Thai from the natives encompassed in Thai society as serfs." A famous Thai scholar argued that Thai (ไท) simply means "people" or "human being", since his investigation shows that in some rural areas the word "Thai" was used instead of the usual Thai word "khon" (
คน) for people.
 According to
Michel Ferlus, the ethnonyms Thai/Tai (or Thay/Tay) would have evolved from the etymon *k(ə)ri: 'human being' through the following chain: *kəri: > *kəli: > *kədi:/*kədaj > *di:/*daj > *dajA (Proto-Southwestern Tai) > tʰajA2 (in
Lao) or > tajA2 (in the other
Central Tai languages classified by
Michel Ferlus' work is based on some simple rules of phonetic change observable in the Sinosphere and studied for the most part by
William H. Baxter (1992).
While Thai people will often refer to their country using the polite form prathet Thai (
Thai: ประเทศไทย), they most commonly use the more colloquial term mueang Thai (
Thai: เมืองไทย) or simply Thai, the word
mueang, archaically a city-state, commonly used to refer to a city or town as the centre of a region. Ratcha Anachak Thai (
Thai: ราชอาณาจักรไทย) means "kingdom of Thailand" or "kingdom of Thai". Etymologically, its components are: ratcha (Sanskrit राजन्,
rājan, "king, royal, realm") ; -ana- (
Pali āṇā "authority, command, power", itself from the Sanskrit आज्ञा, ājñā, of the same meaning) -chak (from Sanskrit
चक्र cakra- "wheel", a symbol of power and rule). The
Thai National Anthem (
Thai: เพลงชาติ), written by
Luang Saranupraphan during the extremely patriotic 1930s, refers to the Thai nation as: prathet Thai (Thai: ประเทศไทย). The first line of the national anthem is: prathet thai ruam lueat nuea chat chuea thai (
Thai: ประเทศไทยรวมเลือดเนื้อชาติเชื้อไทย), "Thailand is the unity of Thai flesh and blood."