It was Ma Huan, the Chinese traveler, who first mentioned Kochi in his books of early 15th century. Nicolo Conti, the Italian traveler also talks about the place in his records of 1440. From then on, the name appears in many travelogues and records of various travelers and traders from across the globe as Cocym, Cochym, Cochin, Cochi and so on. It has also been mentioned in some records as ‘Balapuri’, a Sanskrit name that means small town.
Some scholars are of the opinion it was the traders from the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan who named the port city, after their homeland and. Some others believe that the name is a corrupted version of the Sanskrit word ‘Go Sree’, which means ‘prosperous with cows’.
According to one scholar, the name Kochi was derived from the word cocha, which indicates the Biblical term Cohen.
Kochi is also believed to be derived from kaki, which means harbour in Tamil; from the Malayalam word, koch-azhi meaning ‘small sea’ and from its earlier name Kakochi that was preceded by the name Kochim, used in the Portuguese records of the 15th century, etc. Some still refer to the place as Cochin, though it is now known as Kochi.