The name of Cambodia in the Khmer language is “Kampuchea” (Khmer: ព្រះរាជាណាចក្រកម្ពុជា; Preah Reachanachâk Kampuchea), which derives from Sanskrit Kambujadeśa (कम्बोजदेश; “land of Kambuja”). It is not unique to the modern kingdom of Cambodia: the same name (i.e. Kamboj/Kambuja) is also found in Burmese and Thai chronicles referring to regions within those kingdoms. In the Indian chronicles the Kambuja were a barbarian (in the sense of non-Indian) people in the area of modern Afghanistan. “The application to Southeast Asia has no ethnic content and does not imply any migration of peoples from the original Kambuja; the most likely explanation is that, when Indian traders and Brahmins came into contact with local populations some two thousand years ago, they gave them the names of regions which, in their view, were similarly marginal and remote: the peoples of Southeast Asia, like the barbarian Kamboja, had no castes, did not observe proper food prohibitions and had different rules for marriage.” An origin-myth recorded in the Baksei Chamkronginscription, dated AD 947, derives Kambuja from Svayambhuva Kamboj, a legendary Indian sage who reached the Indochina peninsula and married a naga princess named Mera, thus uniting the Indian and local races. In this story Kambuja derives from Kambu+ja, and means “descendants of Kambu.”
Preah Reachanachâk Kampuchea means “Kingdom of Cambodia”. Etymologically, its components are: Preah- (“sacred”); -reach- (“king, royal, realm”, from Sanskrit); -ana- (from Pāli āṇā, “authority, command, power”); -châk (from Sanskrit chakra, meaning “wheel”, a symbol of power and rule).
The name used on formal occasions, such as political speeches and news programs, is Prâteh Kampuchea (Khmer: ប្រទេសកម្ពុជា), literally “the Country of Cambodia”. The colloquial name most used by Khmer people is Srok Khmae (Khmer: ស្រុកខ្មែរ), literally “Khmer Land”. Srok is a Mon-Khmer word roughly equal to the Sanskritic prâteh, but less formal.
|Name||Khmer Name||French Name||Date||Notes|
|Kingdom of Cambodia||ព្រះរាជាណាចក្រកម្ពុជា||Royaume du Cambodge||1953 – 1970||under the monarchy.|
|Khmer Republic||សាធារណរដ្ឋខ្មែរ||République Khmère||1970 – 1975||under the Lon Nol government.|
|Democratic Kampuchea||កម្ពុជាប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ||Kampuchea démocratique||1975 – 1979||under the Khmer Rouge regime.|
|People’s Republic of Kampuchea||សាធារណរដ្ឋប្រជាមានិតកម្ពុជា||République populaire du Kâmpŭchéa||1979 – 1989||under the rule of the Vietnamese-sponsored government.|
|State of Cambodia||រដ្ឋកម្ពុជា||État du Cambodge||1989 – 1993||under the United Nations Transitional Authority.|
|Kingdom of Cambodia||ព្រះរាជាណាចក្រកម្ពុជា||Royaume du Cambodge||1993 – Present||monarchy restored.|