Mount Everest, the crown jewel of the Himalayas, needs no introduction. But the origin of its name might surprise you. It wasn’t always called Everest. In fact, the man it’s named after, Sir George Everest, never wanted that honor!

A Peak in Search of a Name

In the mid-1800s, the British embarked on a massive project – the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India. Their goal: map the entire subcontinent. This meticulous survey identified the world’s highest mountain in 1852. Initially, it was just “Peak XV,” a placeholder among many.

The peak, which the British had previously referred to as Peak XV, was officially renamed Everest in 1865.
The peak, which the British had previously referred to as Peak XV, was officially renamed Everest in 1865.

Andrew Waugh’s Dilemma

Andrew Waugh, the then Surveyor General of India, faced a challenge. Choosing a name. Ideally, he preferred using local names, as per Everest’s own philosophy. However, Nepal and Tibet, where the mountain lies, were closed off to foreigners. Waugh claimed he couldn’t find a universally accepted local name.

A Name is Chosen

In a twist, Waugh proposed naming the peak after his predecessor, Sir George Everest. Here’s the interesting bit: Everest himself objected! He believed in respecting local names.

A Controversial Choice

Despite Everest’s objections, Waugh’s proposal stuck. The Royal Geographical Society formalized it in 1865 as “Mount Everest.” The name has been widely accepted since, though some argue it disregards local traditions.

The Names Everest Missed

Interestingly, local communities have their own names. The Tibetans call it “Chomolungma” (Goddess Mother of the World), a name Waugh might not have been aware of. Nepal has its names too, like “Sagarmatha” (Sky Mother).

A Legacy of Exploration

While the naming might be debated, Mount Everest symbolizes human exploration and endurance. Its majestic peak continues to beckon adventurers from all over the world.

So, next time you hear Mount Everest, remember the fascinating story behind it – a story of exploration, respect for tradition, and a touch of controversy.


  • 1 – The Naming of Mount Everest – Everest Education Expedition | Montana State University
  • 2 – 7 Things You Should Know About Mount Everest | HISTORY
  • 3 – Mount Everest name – 10 things you did not know about George Everest who gave the mountain its name – Tranquil Kilimanjaro

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