Where does the “Turk(ish)” name come from?
Türk… In the historical papers of Chinese and Roman people, Turkish people called with this name. In B.C. 3rd centuries, it has been claimed that there was a crowded and strong tribe living in Hun Empire. Once they took the sovereignty and established Göktürk Empire, the Turk name had been given to the all tribes that were talking the same language and so that they have called by many folks as Turks such as Arabic, Persian and Byzantine people. Similar cases have been seen in many other races’ names occurrences like Mongols, Franks, and Italics.
The origin of “Turk” word comes from the verb “türemek” (pullulate in English). From this word, the tribe has called themselves as “türük” which refers to a crowded, pullulated one. They probably called themselves as “türük” to show others to they have the same language and race but because they were not united before, we can see the “Türk” word in written papers more after Göktürk Empire was founded. Göktürk name also means that this folk pullulated from the sky (Gök means sky and türük is pullulation as you guess). This name has given in order to emphasize the sacred quality of the reign. The color of sky and blue was important motives in old Turkish beliefs.
How did “Turk” word understood in course of time?
Some rumors claim that Turk means “helmet” because the mountain of the tribe was living looks like a helmet. Another rumor claims that Turk word comes from the Arabic word “terik” (place that left) because some of the people of this tribe were living after the walls of Arabic empires that were giving money to this people to ensure their protection. In Persian, Turk means white and it is also claimed that because the Turkish people were not looking like the domestic people of Middle-East region, they called this community as whites since they had not seen humans that have this kind of genetic features. Also it has been claimed that Turkmen word has been used to refer Muslim Turks and may come from the phrase that “Türk-i İman” (The Turkish with faith) or Persian phrase of Turk-mend (means “looks like Turk”).
Some religion historians think that Turkish people may come from the strain of the Togharma who is the son of the prophet Noah according to Torah. And because the Togharma’s mother’s name was Kantura, in some Jewish sources Turkish people called as “Ben-i Kantura” (Sons of Kantura).
Turk word had also a sociological meaning throughout history. After some Turkish people started to believe in Islam, they mentioned about their kin that were not believe in Islam as “Turk” to refer that they are nomads and weak peasants. The “Turk” word has also used for peasants that are living in mountains and are ignorant ones for centuries. In both Seljuk and Ottoman Empires, “Turk” word refers to bad features of nomads that are living in the country. There was a phrase for this people as “Etrak-ı bî-idrâk” (peasants that have no sensibility) and Etrak word was referring to Turks.
Therefore some historians perceive the “Turk” word as humiliation of the race in the Ottoman Empire but it should be evaluated that in those times the “nation” perception of people was totally different from our perception and racism term was not even existed until the recent centuries so both Seljuk and Ottoman Empires have benefited to Turkish culture and language so much and these states are still remembered proudly by many of the Turkish nationalists.