Modern Dalian originated from Qingniwa (Chinese: 青泥洼; pinyin: Qīngníwā; literally: "cyan mud swamp") or Qingniwaqiao (Chinese: 青泥洼桥; pinyin: Qīngníwāqiáo; literally: "bridge over the cyan mud swamp"), a small fishing village. Russia built a commercial town for the Kwantung Leased Territory after assuming control in 1898 and called it "Dalniy" (Russian: Дальний, translit. Dal'nii, lit. 'a remote one (in reference to the town's location)', rendered as Chinese: 达里尼; pinyin: Dálǐní) from 1898–1905. After the Russo-Japanese War, Japan occupied the Kwantung Leased Territory and renamed the city Dairen (Japanese: 大連/だいれん) after the Chinese name for Dalian Bay (simplified Chinese: 大连湾; traditional Chinese: 大連灣; pinyin: Dàlián Wān). English sources called the city "Dairen" in this period, from the Japanese.
In 1950, Dalian merged with nearby town called Lüshun (Chinese: 旅顺) (formerly "Ryojun" and before that, "Port Arthur") to form the city of Lüda (Chinese: 旅大; pinyin: Lǚdà), a name formed from the first syllable of each constituent's name which was usually rendered as Luta in English during that era. In 1981, the State Council again renamed the city, from Lüda to "Dalian" (simplified Chinese: 大连; traditional Chinese: 大連; pinyin: Dàlián, the same Chinese characters as Japanese Dairen), effective 5 March 1981.