ancient name for the northern part of Africa west of Egypt, attested in heiroglyphics from 2000 B.C.E., of unknown origin. In Greek use, sometimes meaning all of Africa. The modern nation acquired the name in 1934, when Italy, which then held it as a colony, revived the name as that of the colony, which became formally independent in 1951. Related: Libyan (adj. and n., both c. 1600), earlier as an adjective Lybic (1540s); as a noun, for the inhabitants and the country, Middle English had Libie. The combining form is Libyo-.
updated on October 10, 2017