Bohemian (/boʊˈhiːmiən/) is a resident of Bohemia, a region of
Czech Republic or the former Kingdom of Bohemia, a region of the
former Crown of
Bohemia (lands of the
Bohemian Crown). In English, the
word "Bohemian" was used to denote the
Czech people as well as the
Czech language before the word "Czech" became prevalent in the early
In a separate meaning, "Bohemian" may also denote "a socially
unconventional person, especially one who is involved in the arts"
according to Oxford Dictionaries Online. (See Bohemianism).
Bohemian traditional costumes
The name "Bohemia" derives from the name of the Boii, a Celtic tribe
who inhabited that area towards the later La Tène period. The toponym
Boiohaemum, first attested by Tacitus, is commonly taken to mean
"home of the Boii" (from the Germanic root *haima- meaning "world,
The word "Bohemian" has never been widely used by the local Czech
population. In Czech, the region since the early Middle Ages has been
called Čechy but also, especially during the period of
restoration/emancipation of the
Czech language and nation, as Čechie.
Another term, stressing the importance of the state/nation, is
Království české ("Czech Kingdom") in Czech, or Böhmen
(Königreich) in German. Its mainly Czech-speaking inhabitants were
called Čechové (in modern Czech Češi).
In most other Western European vernaculars and in Latin (as Bohemi),
the word "Bohemian" or a derivate was used. If the Czech ethnic origin
was to be stressed, combinations such as "
Bohemian of Bohemian
language" (Čech českého jazyka), "a real Bohemian" (pravý Čech),
etc. were used.
It was not until the 19th century that other European languages began
to use words related to "Czechs" (as in English, Tschechen in German,
Tchèques in French) in a deliberate (and successful) attempt to
distinguish between ethnic Slavic-speaking Bohemians and other
inhabitants of Bohemia. The latter were mostly ethnic Germans, who
identified as "German Bohemians" (Deutschböhmen) or simply as
"Bohemians" (Böhmen). In many parts of Europe, state citizenship was
not identical with ethnicity and language, and the various peoples
were usually identified by their language. Ethnic boundaries in
Bohemia were not always sharp, and people very often were bilingual.
Intermarriages across language borders were also common. Native Czech
speakers often spoke German and many native German speakers spoke
Czech with varying fluency, particularly in areas with many Czech
Currently, the word "Bohemians" is sometimes used when speaking about
Bohemia of all ethnic origins, especially before the year
1918, when the Kingdom of
Bohemia ceased to exist. It is also used to
distinguish between inhabitants of the western part (
of the state, and the eastern (Moravia) or north-eastern (Silesia)
The different term "Bohemianism" was associated with "a socially
unconventional person, especially one who is involved in the arts",
that comes from the French word bohémien.
Name of the Czech Republic
^ a b c "Bohemian", Oxford Dictionaries online, Oxford University
Press, Retrieved on: 2011-09-14