By Jim Robb
After returning from a recent trip to Denmark I thought it might be interesting to explore the etymology of the word Denmark, I find it is a subject which attracts some debate –
The debate is centred primarily around the prefix “Dan” and whether it refers to the Dani or a historical person Dan and the exact meaning of the -“mark” ending. The issue is further complicated by a number of references to various Dani people in Scandinavia or other places in Europe in Greek and Roman accounts (like Ptolemy, Jordanes, and Gregory of Tours), as well as some mediaeval literature (like Adam of Bremen, Beowulf, Widsith and Poetic Edda).
Most handbooks derive the first part of the word, and the name of the people, from a word meaning “flat land”, related to German Tenne “threshing floor”, English den “cave”, Sanskrit dhánuṣ- (धनुस्; “desert”). The -mark is believed to mean woodland or borderland, with probable references to the border forests in south Schleswig, maybe similar to Finnmark, Telemark, or Dithmarschen. In Norse, the land was called Danmǫrk.
So that’s clear then!
With thanks to wikipedia.