I don't get why in English language it is called the "Ottoman" Empire. The name of the state derives from its founder, Osman I., however how can "Osman" be transformed to "Ottoman"? For me this doesn't make any sense.

In my mother tongue, which is German, it is called "Osmanisches Reich", hence "Osmanic Empire" appears to me as a more logical English version in my opinion. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osmanisches_Reich

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    Because the pronunciation differs as user244 already answered, Just to provide more info, Arabs pronounce it Uthman. The Turks, Pakistanis, Indians and Iranians (I Think?) Pronounce it as Osman. It was called Osmanli Devleti (Osmani State) or Devlete Ebedi (Eternal State) by the Turks and to others who pronounced the name like them it was known as Khilafah-e-Osmaniye or Sultanate-e-Osmaniye. The English name derives from the Arabic Pronunciation Uthman obviously (Uthman-Otman-Ottoman something like that I reckon)
    – NSNoob
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 5:39
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    ...Point being, the guy's name was not "Osman" either. That's just somebody's transliteration into the Latin alphabet of one of the versions of the guy's name from Arabic. Arabic is a different language, with different sounds than either Turkish, German, or English. This is also why there are something like 12 different spellings floating around for the name "Quadaffi".
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 13:33
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    "s" and "t" are actually quite prone to change places with each other, just as "r" and "l", or "m", and "n". They might not seem that similar to you but they occur in the same part of the mouth. The change is more often (but not exclusively) from "t" or "th" sounds to "ts" or "s" or "sh" sounds. Ever notice all those "-tion" words in English that are written with a "t", were pronounced in Latin with a "t", but pronounced in English with a "sh"?
    – hobbs
    Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 1:47
  • @hobbs Are the letters 'v'&'u' and 'i'&'j' also belonging to this sort of similiar letters? Just think on the INRI plaque on the christian cross, in which 'jesus' is obviously written as 'iesus' (I used lowercase letters for better distinction). The name of my hometown in Austria starts with an 'U', in very old documents however the name is written with a 'V' instead with an 'U'. Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 12:06
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    @BruderLustig that's a different thing. Ancient Latin didn't have J, only I; J was a later development, at which point initial I's started "turning into" J's. Likewise Latin only had one letter for U/V/W (written like V, but sounds like U or W) and the other forms came later. In medieval English you can find an intermediate where they were still considered different forms of one letter, but people wrote the "u" form in the middle of words, so you would get things like "loue" and "heauen".
    – hobbs
    Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 17:52

3 Answers 3


The explanation seems to be related to the attempted spelling of the Arabic for Osman, which came out as utman or Uthman. From wiktionary.org

From Middle French Ottoman, from post-classical Latin Ottomanus, from Ottoman Turkish عثمان, from Arabic personal name عُثْمَان (ʿuṯmān). Osman is the Turkish spelling of the male Arabic given name Uthman, therefore the Ottoman Empire is sometimes referred to as the Osman Empire, Osmanic Empire, or Osmanian Empire, after Osman I.

Its also has been discussed here on the English Language & Usage Stack.


As an Arabic speaker, Osman and Uthman/Othman are really the same name (both are Arabic/Turkish names). So calling the nation the Ottoman Empire makes sense when comparing with the name Othman.


There is a very strong theory about Osmans real name being Ataman, a Turkic name and that his descendant Murad II(in whose reign the first historical records were written since the foundation)made historians record it as Osman in order to give the state an islamic feeling.

But of course, even if it is true, the British were absolutely unaware of this. So, as some others stated, it is probably taken from the French who recorded it based on the arabic spelling Uthman, and from there, it became Ottoman in English.

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    I would like to upvote this when a source is provided.
    – user18968
    Commented Jan 29, 2019 at 17:07

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