The origins of a number of village toponyms, including that for the area known as Hal-Qormi, remain unclear. Over the years, proposals have been forwarded but no definite conclusion can be claimed at present.
The name Qormi could have been derived from the surname Curmi 1. This surname probably reached the islands from Sicily, were it is documented as early as 1095. When in the year 1419, Qormi is mentioned for the first time, only two of twenty people with the surname Curmi lived in the village. It is thus postulated that the area was already referred to as Qormi for a time long enough to allow the Curmi family to distribute itself around the islands.
The derivation of a placename from a surname is not unusual for Malta; the names of localities such as Balzan, Attard and Ghaxaq appear to have had their origin as a surname
Two explanations are forwarded in the seventeenth century; Domenico Magri2 ascribes the toponym's origin to the word Curmi, meaning "drink" and argues for this claim by referring to the abundant quantities of underground water existing in the locality. On the other hand, G.F.Abela3 describes a considerable number of vinyards in the locality and proposes the word Carm or Carme (from the arab term for vine) as the basis for village's name.
The explanation given by Agius de Soldanis4 in the eighteenth century, proposes the greek word Crumi meaning a collection of water for the origins of the name Qormi. He continues by arguing further that the name Casal Fornaro also refers to the abundance of water in the locality and not to the number of bakeries present in the village. Agius de Soldanis however fails to provide evidence for his final conclusion.
The most recent proposal5, suggests the greek Hormos (meaning Harbour) to be at the roots of the placename. The harbour area, east of Valletta is known to have extended as far inland as the present limits of modern Qormi, explaining for the possible link between the toponym and the greek word.
1) Wettinger G. (1984): Hal-Qormi qabel il-Migja tal-Kavallieri in Il-Knisja Parrokjali ta' San Gorg Hal-Qormi; pp 3
2) Bonello G. (1996): The Earliest Maltese encyclopedia, 1644-7 ; in Sunday Times of Malta 27/10/1996 pp 93
3) Abela G.F. (1647): Della Descrittione di Malta.....; libro I, notitia VIII pp 93
4) Farrugia G. (1936): Ghawdex bil-grajja tieghu Vol I pp 68 (translated from Agius de Soldanis F.: Il Gozo Antico e Moderno Sacro e Profano )
5) Scicluna C. (1997): Antiquity probably knew Qormi "as a harbour" ;in Times of Malta 18/11/1997; pp 5
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