The word Kolkata derives from Kôlikata (Bengali: কলিকাতা) [ˈkɔlikat̪a], the Bengali name of one of three villages that predated the arrival of the British, in the area where the city was eventually established; the other two villages were Sutanuti and Govindapur.
There are several explanations for the etymology of this name:
Kolikata is thought to be a variation of Kalikkhetrô [ˈkalikʰːet̪rɔ] (Bengali: কালীক্ষেত্র), meaning "Field of [the goddess] Kali". Similarly, it can be a variation of 'Kalikshetra' (Sanskrit: कालीक्षेत्र, lit. "area of Goddess Kali").
Alternatively, the name may have been derived from the Bengali term kilkila (Bengali: কিলকিলা), or "flat area".
The name may have its origin in the words khal [ˈkʰal] (Bengali: খাল) meaning "canal", followed by kaṭa [ˈkata] (Bengali: কাটা), which may mean "dug".
According to another theory, the area specialised in the production of quicklime or koli chun [ˈkɔlitɕun] (Bengali: কলি চুন) and coir or kata [ˈkat̪a] (Bengali: কাতা); hence, it was called Kolikata [ˈkɔlikat̪a] (Bengali: কলিকাতা).
Although the city's name has always been pronounced Kolkata [ˈkolkat̪a] (Bengali: কলকাতা) or Kôlikata [ˈkɔlikat̪a] (Bengali: কলিকাতা) in Bengali, the anglicised form Calcutta was the official name until 2001, when it was changed to Kolkata in order to match Bengali pronunciation.