The word satrap is derived via Latin satrapes from Greek satrápēs (σατράπης), itself borrowed from an Old Iranian *xšaθra-pā/ă-. In Old Persian, which was the native language of the Achaemenids, it is recorded as xšaçapāvan (𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎱𐎠𐎺𐎠, literally "protector of the province"). The Median form is reconstructed as *xšaθrapāwan-. It is cognate with Sanskrit kṣatrapa (क्षत्रपम्), kṣatrapati, and kshatriya.
In the Parthian (language of the Arsacid Empire) and Middle Persian (the language of the Sassanian Empire), it is recorded in the forms šahrab and šasab, respectively.
In modern Persian the descendant of xšaθrapāvan is shahrbān (شهربان), but the components have undergone semantic shift so the word now means "town keeper" (shahr [شهر] meaning "town" + bān [بان] meaning "keeper").