Etymology of the word Basque
Barscunes coin, Roman period
The English word Basque may be pronounced / or / and derives from the French Basque (French pronunciation: [bask]), which is derived from Gascon Basco (pronounced /ˈbasku/), cognate with Spanish Vasco (pronounced /ˈbasko/). These, in turn, come from Latin Vasco (pronounced /wasko/), plural Vascones (see History section below). The Latin labial-velar approximant /w/ generally evolved into the bilabials /b/ and /β̞/ in Gascon and Spanish, probably under the influence of Basque and Aquitanian, a language related to old Basque and spoken in Gascony in Antiquity (similarly the Latin /w/ evolved into /v/ in French, Italian and other languages).
Several coins from the 2nd and 1st centuries BC found in the Basque Country bear the inscription barscunes. The place where they were minted is not certain, but is thought to be somewhere near Pamplona, in the heartland of the area that historians believe was inhabited by the Vascones. Some scholars have suggested a Celtic etymology based on bhar-s-, meaning "summit", "point" or "leaves", according to which barscunes may have meant "the mountain people", "the tall ones" or "the proud ones", while others have posited a relationship to a proto-Indo-European root *bar- meaning "border", "frontier", "march".
In Basque, people call themselves the euskaldunak, singular euskaldun, formed from euskal- (i.e. "Basque (language)") and -dun (i.e. "one who has"); euskaldun literally means a Basque speaker. Not all Basques are Basque-speakers. Therefore, the neologism euskotar, plural euskotarrak, was coined in the 19th century to mean a culturally Basque person, whether Basque-speaking or not. Alfonso Irigoyen posits that the word euskara is derived from an ancient Basque verb enautsi "to say" (cf. modern Basque esan) and the suffix -(k)ara ("way (of doing something)"). Thus euskara would literally mean "way of saying", "way of speaking". One item of evidence in favour of this hypothesis is found in the Spanish book Compendio Historial, written in 1571 by the Basque writer
Esteban de Garibay. He records the name of the Basque language as enusquera. It may, however, be a writing mistake.
In the 19th century, the Basque nationalist activist Sabino Arana posited an original root euzko which, he thought, came from eguzkiko ("of the sun", related to the assumption of an original solar religion). On the basis of this putative root, Arana proposed the name Euzkadi for an independent Basque nation, composed of seven Basque historical territories. Arana's neologism Euzkadi (in the regularized spelling Euskadi) is still widely used in both Basque and Spanish, since it is now the official name of the of the .